New York, NY — The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) strongly condemns today’s Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wade, holding that there is no longer a right to abortion under the federal constitution. Access to safe, affordable, and legal abortion and reproductive health care is a priority for JCPA. We are outraged by this decision, which we do not believe represents the will of the people nor is in the best interest of the country.
For decades, JCPA has championed reproductive freedom in keeping with our strong belief in religious liberty. We have advocated at the state and federal levels, joined amicus briefs, and adopted policy resolutions in support of everyone’s right to make their own reproductive decisions, including the right to access an abortion.
Today’s dismantling of nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent undermines reproductive freedom, endangers people’s health, and will inevitably lead to the criminalization of those who get abortions and the doctors who perform them. We know that abortion bans do not stop abortions; they only stop safe abortions. This decision will disproportionately impact people of color, those who are low-income, and young people. Studies show that banning abortions leads to poor health outcomes for the pregnant person, long term poverty, and other adverse health and economic impacts. This ruling could even lead to death if a person experiences an ectopic pregnancy or other life-endangering conditions that require an abortion, as would be the case in those states that have passed “trigger” laws banning abortion without exception.
Prohibiting abortion access is contrary to Jewish law, traditions, and our principal value of saving a life; it enshrines specific religious imperatives in American law. Judaism compels us to stand for all life, and we prioritize the life and health of a pregnant person. While we treat a fetus with great significance, it does not merit the status of a person until the moment of birth and then it has equal status with the person giving birth. If the fetus endangers a person’s life physically or, according to at least some Jewish religious authorities, through mental anguish, Jewish law supports abortion of a fetus up until the moment of birth.
JCPA believes in the foundational principle of separation of church and state, which prohibits the governmental imposition of religious beliefs. Overturning Roe v. Wade violates this principle. It imposes a narrow religious perspective on the entire nation.
JCPA believes in the American vision that the role of our government is to protect the health, liberty, and dignity of all people. We will continue to work for reproductive freedom and call on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade. JCPA supports an individual’s right to make their own reproductive choices.
Note: The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, a JCPA member, has a standard, long standing policy of not joining in JCPA statements on reproductive rights: “[The Orthodox Union] cannot endorse a public policy that does not reflect the complex response of halacha to the abortion issue. In most circumstances, the halacha proscribes abortion, but there are cases in which halacha permits and indeed mandates abortion. The question of abortion is a sensitive one and personal decisions in this area should be made in consultation with recognized halachic authorities.”