Why Roe v. Wade is a First Amendment fight

Religion News Service | 6/27/2016 | Sheila Katz
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(RNS) — During the wave of state abortion bans passed this spring, elected officials around the United States routinely invoked God and religion to justify stripping individuals of the constitutional right to make decisions about our own bodies. When Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most restrictive anti-abortion measure in the country, she described it as a “powerful testament” to the belief that “every life is a sacred gift from God.” When Florida Rep. Walter Bryan "Mike" Hill sponsored a similar bill in his state, he said it was sent to him by God.

Abortion - Rabbi - Jewish - Law - Life

Yet if I were seeking an abortion right now, my rabbi would tell me that according to Jewish law, life does not begin at conception, that a fetus is not considered an individual with its own rights and that abortion care is actually health care. For Jews who can become pregnant, reproductive freedoms are our religious freedoms, guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

For the past 47 years, since Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court, these freedoms have been protected. As we commemorate Roe’s anniversary today, they now hang in balance.

Month - Male - Republican - Members - Congress

Just this month, more than 200 (overwhelmingly male and Republican) members of Congress petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade when it decides June Medical Services v. Gee, a case concerning a restrictive Louisiana law that the court will consider this spring. The legislators described Roe as a “radically unsettled precedent” that is “unworkable." A few days later, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts declared Jan. 22, Roe’s anniversary, a statewide day of prayer “to end abortion.”

For Jews, abortion isn’t only a workable choice; it is a choice guided by our religion.

Officials - Torah - Debates - Freedom - Community

We rarely hear elected officials cite the Torah in debates over reproductive freedom. The Jewish community is generally not...
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