For us, today is a sad and infuriating day in America. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling on reproductive rights, those in need of abortion care have been robbed of their right to choose and have agency over their own body; the basic core rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been rolled back.
The impact of overturning Roe v. Wade will be wide and devastating, affecting the lives of all women and those in need of reproductive care in the United States in some way while disproportionately impacting women who are poor and women of color. This includes people less able to afford the cost or time necessary to obtain an abortion safely, or those who will resort to procedures that put their health or lives at risk.
And as Jews, this development should make us deeply concerned for our own ability to assert our religious freedom in our country. At the core of the Jewish tradition is the affirmation of the sanctity of life. Further, the tradition recognizes that (1) life does not begin at conception, (2) that the well being (spiritual, emotional, and physical) of the parent takes precedence over an unborn fetus, and (3) that abortion is a legitimate choice. Therefore, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, our religious freedom is being compromised.
Thankfully, New York, the physical home of BJ and the place where the majority of our members live, is a state that is working tirelessly to preserve the right to safe and accessible abortions. But make no mistake: the consequences of today’s decision are pernicious and widespread. We are deeply concerned about what the future holds for reproductive and women’s rights in our country—for the rights of others enshrined in precedents that could be undone.
The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were originally stated to be granted for all Americans, but really were only ever granted to some. Over the course of American history, cases have come before the Supreme Court to petition for the rights of those marginalized in society. Our imperfect democracy has slowly become more inclusive, with more and more civil rights granted to women, people of color, and to gay, lesbian and transgender people. Today, much of that progress feels threatened and some already lost.
This is not the America we want to live in.
We are ready and prepared to act.
We will gather together in prayer, in solidarity and resolve, this Shabbat. Please join us in person or virtually.
Here’s what we know so far:
At 4:00PM today, the National Council of Jewish Women is holding a virtual Jewish vigil for Abortion Justice, which we invite you to join. This will be a space to mourn the loss of Roe v. Wade Jewishly, and will provide a few ways people can get involved moving forward.
Because of Shabbat, we will not be organizing a BJ group to travel to in-person actions happening in New York City tonight. However, if it is in line with your Shabbat practice, Planned Parenthood of New York’s Bans Off Manhattan rally will take place in Union Square at 8:00PM. There will be a contingent of Upper West Side Jewish groups gathering at the southwest corner of Madison Square Park (Broadway and 23rd St.) between 7:00–7:15PM. They will have signs and walk to the rally together.
We will gather online for Arvit and Havdalah tomorrow night at 9:25PM for a chance to acknowledge and reflect on this decision in community. Please join us.
NCJW has planned some upcoming programming, which we encourage you to sign up for here. We hope to share more information on other programming and potential volunteer opportunities as we learn more and engage in community response to the Supreme Court’s decision.