September 2015 Reproductive Health of Women and Families
Our Jewish community is informed by the unique experience of living in the United States where constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom is a founding principle of our country. In regard to reproductive health, the Jewish community’s position on this complex issue is guided by the tenets of equal protection under the law, freedom of religious expression, and the separation of religion and state.
The Jewish Community Relations Council affirms that rabbis in our community offer private and compassionate pastoral care to individuals who seek out spiritual guidance on a range of matters related to their reproductive health, allowing individuals to consider the rich teachings of the Jewish tradition while making their own decisions. 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.
The Jewish Community Relations Council endorses the preservation of religious choice and opposes restrictions imposed by federal, state, or local law which would prevent or delay an individual from making a reproductive health decision, including abortion, in accord with her own religious views, often in consultation with clergy and/or physicians.
The Jewish Community Relations Council recognizes that Jewish tradition affirms the value of human life and that decisions about abortion involve theological views that differ within the Jewish community. Yet, we maintain that governmental attempts to legislate these views 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 the separation of religion and state respected and upheld.
The Jewish Community Relations Council asserts that individuals have a legal right to make their own decisions about accessing the full range of reproductive health care options. We support universal access to comprehensive and medically accurate reproductive and sexual health education and the full range of health care services, including birth control and abortion services. These services must be accessible regardless of ability to pay.
The Jewish Community Relations Council supports ongoing discussions in the Jewish community about the need to advance equity in access to reproductive health services for all women and families while encouraging greater support, prayer, ritual and understanding of those who are grappling with moral dilemmas and difficult decisions. The Council encourages increased discussion about the harmful impact of difficult life circumstances and inequities in the choices that individuals in all walks of life may face as well as disparities across different geographic, socioeconomic and other populations regarding access to quality reproductive health services.
The Jewish Community Relations Council opposes any legislative efforts to deny a woman’s right to meaningfully access the full range of reproductive health services and fully exercise her constitutionally protected rights. The Council encourages Jewish organizations to actively oppose efforts that would deny a woman’s right to reproductive freedom on the State level.
The Jewish Community Relations Council respects and affirms Jewish teaching and tradition on reproductive matters. We believe that efforts aimed at protecting our vital American experience which is grounded in religious freedom, individual choice, equality, and privacy are complementary to maintaining support for core Jewish views on this matter.
Submitted by the following JCRC Member Organizations
National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section; Temple Emanuel; Kol Rinah; St. Louis Chapter Hadassah