November 1989 Reproductive Rights
The following statement was adopted with no dissenting votes:
The Jewish Community Relations Council is that body which brings together 18 major Jewish organizations and institutions in the St. Louis area for discussion and coordinated action on current concerns relating to domestic and international policy issues. JCRC also works to promote positive cooperation and understanding between the Jewish community and St. Louis’ many religious, ethnic, and racial groups through coalition efforts.
As an umbrella organization, JCRC seeks to develop positions reflecting the points on which there is consensus among its members; individual member organizations which participate in the process often have developed their own policy positions on which they act independently.
On abortion, as on all issues, the Jewish Community Relations Council affirms the importance of respect for the expression of differing points of view – an essential element in our pluralistic society.
Jewish tradition affirms the value of human life, and our moral and legal traditions judge the decision to abort a fetus to be a serious matter. Historically, rabbis have ruled that abortion is either necessary or permitted under certain circumstances.
Decisions about abortion involve theological assumptions about when life begins and why abortion is permitted or forbidden. These assumptions differ within the Jewish community and among different religious communities. Therefore, government attempts to legislate this matter, if based on one particular set of theological assumptions, invade the religious liberty and religious pluralism guaranteed individuals by the First Amendment. In this area of religious concern, private religious conscience must be protected and publicly legislated morality must be restrained. This is the heart of the separation of church and state.
The Jewish Community Relations Council opposes restrictions imposed by federal, state, or local law which would prevent or delay an individual from making an abortion decision in accord with her own religious views, often in consultation with clergy and/or physicians.
This policy endorses the preservation of religious choice; neither Jewish tradition nor the JCRC endorses abortion. In an ideal world there might be no need for abortion; but in the less-than-ideal world in which we live, the decision to abort or not is best kept out of government control.