NEW YORK, NY (May 3, 2022) According to a draft majority opinion, the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn its previous landmark decisions, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, effectively ending the constitutional right to abortion. For more than fifty years, the Rabbinical Assembly has fiercely opposed efforts to limit abortion access and strongly supported reproductive rights. For example, in response to legislative efforts that threatened reproductive freedom in 2021, the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis, passed a Resolution on Right to Legal and Accessible Abortion in the United States. Following the Supreme Court’s attack on abortion accessibility, the RA issued the following statement:“The RA is deeply troubled by reports that the Supreme Court will soon nullify the constitutional right to abortion. Reproductive freedom is again under assault, this time from the highest court in our nation. The RA supports full access for all those who need abortions to the entire spectrum of reproductive healthcare and opposes all efforts by governmental, private entities, or individuals to limit or dismantle such access.
“The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly has affirmed the right of a pregnant person to choose an abortion in cases where ‘continuation of a pregnancy might cause severe physical or psychological harm, or where the fetus is judged by competent medical opinion as severely defective.’ This position is based on our members’ understanding of relevant biblical and rabbinic sources as well as teshuvot – modern rabbinic responsa. Jewish tradition cherishes the sanctity of life, including the potential of life during pregnancy, but does not believe that personhood and human rights begin with conception, but rather with birth as indicated by Exodus 21:22-23.
“Denying individuals access to the complete spectrum of reproductive healthcare, including contraception, abortion-inducing devices, and abortions, among others, on religious grounds, deprives those who need medical care of their Constitutional right to religious freedom. The RA has consistently supported these reproductive freedoms for over 50 years.
“There continue to be efforts in the United States on both the federal and state levels that pose existential threats to reproductive freedom, especially so-called ‘heartbeat’ bills. The Rabbinical Assembly emphatically opposes all such laws and legislative or executive moves. As the focus of the debate shifts to the U.S. Congress, we call on our members to contact their senators and representatives and demand they advocate for these fundamental rights in each and every state.”