Central Conference of American Rabbis Condemns States’ Manipulation of Coronavirus Crisis to Eliminate the Constitutional Right to Abortion

March 27, 2020

The Central Conference of American Rabbis condemns, in the strongest terms, moves by the states of Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas to eliminate access to abortion services while our nation faces the Coronavirus pandemic.

Reform rabbis trust women, as well as transgender men and gender-nonbinary persons who may become pregnant, to make the best decisions about their own bodies, in consultation with their own physicians—and, if they choose, their members of the clergy. CCAR rabbis stand ready to assist those struggling with unwanted pregnancies, now as always.

Efforts to eliminate abortion rights during this pandemic are a thinly veiled attempt to take advantage of the health crisis to challenge the constitutional rights of women and those who become pregnant. Such efforts pose an unacceptable health risk to the lives of pregnant persons, rather than saving lives as anti-abortion forces claim, as those who need an abortion will seek one, even by unsafe, illegal means at the risk of their own lives if necessary. People who are pregnant cannot wait until the pandemic is over to secure abortions, as their pregnancies will have advanced beyond the point when these states permit abortion, a fact of which anti-abortion forces are well aware.

Contrary to claims, the practice of abortion does not threaten or compromise the ability of physicians to provide appropriate care for Americans diagnosed with Coronavirus. Abortion services are provided in clinics rather than in hospitals that are unquestionably needed to treat pandemic patients at this time. Nor do abortion procedures require use of medical equipment and supplies needed for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. As evidence of the safety of the procedure, abortion providers have, in fact, called upon all states to join those that already permit doctors, upon consultation with their patients, to prescribe medical (non-surgical) abortion via telemedicine.

In the name of Jewish tradition’s highest value, pikuach nefesh, saving life—in this case, the lives of persons in need of abortions—the Central Conference of American Rabbis calls upon state leaders in Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas to rescind these unconstitutional abortion bans, and urge other states not to follow suit. We also call upon our federal courts to invalidate these bans immediately, to recognize their true intent—another attempt by anti-abortion forces to eliminate the constitutional right to freedom of choice. And, as an additional measure to help reduce the risk of infection during this pandemic, we call on all states to allow for the provision of medical abortion via telemedicine.

Rabbi Ronald Segal
Central Conference of American Rabbis

Rabbi Hara Person
Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis