Tuesday, March 5, 2019
The Central Conference of American Rabbis resolutely opposes rules issued by the Trump Administration to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which would severely curtail life-saving medical care for millions of low-income women who benefit from the federal Title X program.
These changes, set to take effect in sixty days, would diminish poor women’s access to health care services–including cancer screenings, pregnancy tests, and contraception. These changes would remove federal funds from the purposes Congress intended in establishing Title X, denying women the right to choose their preferred provider and redirecting funding to conservative faith-based institutions that do not provide evidence-based health care.
The proposed rules would also forbid federally-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions if they would choose that safe, constitutionally-protected procedure. All of these changes serve to limit women’s access to life-saving health care, and are an unacceptable blow to reproductive justice.
Judaism holds saving a life among our highest religious values. Our tradition also teaches that all deserve access to medical care. Jewish tradition holds that abortion is permitted, and in some cases even required, to protect the life or well-being of the mother, a decision that only the woman can make, in consultation with her chosen medical care provider–and, if she wishes, with her partner and/or rabbi.
Religious freedom, as guaranteed in the Constitution’s First Amendment, is not meant to impose the beliefs of some on the many, but rather to offer all the freedom to use our own consciences as guides. Reform rabbis therefore object to the diversion of federal funds to faith-based providers that offer services on the basis of religious belief rather than medical evidence.
CCAR rabbis applaud states that are taking legal action to protect women’s health care from these disastrous rules–California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin, in addition to the District of Columbia.
Reform rabbis will continue to speak out and stand up for every woman’s right to control her own sexual and reproductive health care.
Rabbi David E. Stern
Rabbi Steven A. Fox
Central Conference of American Rabbis