The Battle to Oppose Restrictions to Reproductive Rights

It’s estimated that more than one hundred million people will be watching the battle on the playing field for the Super Bowl this Sunday as the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks compete for the title and that amazing ring.

That amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in ads, sponsorships…you name it.

For weeks, the press has been interviewing players, talking about odds, getting us hyped for the “big game.”

Even if one isn’t a football fan, it’s hard not to get caught up in the frenzy of Super Bowl fever.

As for me, I’m attending two Super Bowl parties myself.

But there’s another battle being waged right now in the United States: one that affects every single one of us in some manner: either because we are female, or because we have a mother, wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter or some other woman in our lives. And it’s my hope that we can get just as caught up in this battle as we are in the Super Bowl:

The Battle to Oppose Restrictions to Reproductive Rights for Women

Be A Voice for Choice: Speak Out to Oppose Restrictions to Reproductive Rights
Be A Voice for Choice: Speak Out to Oppose Restrictions to Reproductive Rights

I am joining with many of my colleagues and with the Reform Movement to speak out to oppose restrictions to reproductive rights for women. I urge you to write to your congressional representative to oppose these restrictions as well.

For me, the issue is based on both personal experience and on my understanding of Jewish values.

The Personal Perspective:

  • One of my closest family members became pregnant as a result of being raped by her physician. (His license to practice medicine was revoked as a result of that attack. He should have gone to jail.). If she had not been allowed access to an abortion, she would have been forced to give birth to a child by rape. (And she was not in a situation where pregnancy was a viable option).
  • I have six nieces and many other close relatives who are all female. It is important to me that they, and I, have the ability to make our own choices when it comes to decisions about our bodies.
  • One of my dear friends became pregnant with a baby who was grossly deformed. It was determined the fetus had no brain. She and her husband had to make the difficult but necessary choice to terminate the pregnancy as soon as they were able.

The Proposed Legislation:

On February 28, the House of Representatives passed The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7)
by a vote of 227-188.

Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism: Focus on Reproductive Rights
Religious Action Center of the Union for Reform Judaism: Focus on Reproductive Rights

The Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center (RAC) has a great deal of information and updates about this issue. Click here to read more about this from the RAC. Here is a summary of the issue:

This is dangerous and highly restrictive bill that severely threatens the right to choice affirmed by the Supreme Court in Roe V. Wade (1973). With the passage of this legislation, it threatens to prevent women seeking needed reproductive health care from using their own private money to pay for abortion services.

H.R. 7 would also deny women the right to deduct abortion services in their health care tax credits. This infringes not only on federally-administered health care plans, but also on privately-run and paid-for plans.

This legislations would likely lead many private health insurance plans to eliminate abortion coverage altogether. This reduces a woman’s access to safe, legal and affordable abortion.

Additionally, H.R. 7 further enshrines the “Hyde Amendment” of 1976 into law. The “Hyde Amendment” forbids any federal funding for abortions for those on Medicaid, Medicare or those in the Indian Health Service (except for in the cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the life of the mother).

The Jewish Perspective:

Judaism teaches us that all life comes from God and therefore, all life is sacred. However, a fetus is not considered to be a fully functioning “human being” until “it’s head has crowned”. What does this mean?

This means that from a Jewish traditional perspective, our tradition teaches us that we place the health and well-being of the mother as our top-priority while the mother is pregnant. Yet, at the same time, we still do all we can to nurture the growing fetus as it has the potential to grow into a fully viable human being.

We learn from the rabbis in the Mishna (Mishna Ohalot 7:6) that a woman is forbidden to harm herself or risk her own life to save that of her unborn fetus. If her life is threatened, she must “dismember the fetus limb-by-limb to save her own life”. In other words, she must abort the fetus to save her own life. Additionally, if her mental health is at risk (as in the case of rape, incest) the woman is permitted to terminate the pregnancy. However, if she is giving birth, as soon as the baby’s head has crowned, we are taught, the baby is a viable human being, and one must save the lives of both the baby AND the mother.

Therefore, our Jewish tradition teaches us that there are circumstances when the sanctity of life demands of us that in order to save a woman’s life, abortion is both the moral and correct decision.

Take Action:

What can you do? You CAN make a difference!

It’s even simpler than planning a Super Bowl party!!

Urge your congressional representative to speak AGAINST The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R.7) which would deprive women of the ability to make their own choices about their reproductive health.

You can email your representative directly by clicking on this link (all you will have to do is fill in your email address and address):

(As an aside, I know my representative, Brad Schneider. He assures me that they DO READ all of the letters and emails they receive and they do make a difference).

Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center Email Direct Link to Your Congressional Representative

To reach your Members of Congress, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

We cannot stand silent while the House of Representatives considers a bill that violates the US Constitution, the US Supreme Court Roe V. Wade decision and our Jewish tradition.
So while you are gearing up for the Super Bowl this Sunday, take a few extra minutes and “gear up” for the women in your life as well.

Join me in the battle to oppose restrictions to reproductive rights.

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