Religious abortion-rights advocates prepare next steps


Religious abortion-rights advocates in the US are planning their next move following the judgement against the right to abortion.

One advocate is Jody Rabhan, chief policy officer for the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW).

She and other members of her organisation are “absolutely devastated, shocked and angry,” she says.

“This is not the end. There are things that we can do.”

Many Muslim, Christian and liberal-leaning religious groups have long advocated for abortion rights. They’re preparing new efforts to preserve the current shape of abortion policy as much as possible.

Catholics for Choice head Jamie Manson says her group is pressuring lawmakers to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. Passed by the House and awaiting action in a less-receptive Senate, the bill would codify the provisions of Roe v Wade into federal law.

Manson’s group is also pushing President Joe Biden — a fellow Catholic abortion-rights supporter — to declare a public health emergency in the wake of Friday’s ruling.

In addition they will continue “emboldening Catholics who already are pro-choice to say ‘Not in the name of my faith,’” and to rally around the idea that the decision is a “violation of a Catholic principle of religious freedom.”

Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith also urged Biden to declare a public health emergency in a New York Times editorial. This would unlock “critical resources and authority that States and the Federal Government can use to meet the surge in demand for reproductive health services”.

NCJW has similar plans. They and their allies will push the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and work to ensure Federal and Supreme Court judges “have very strong reproductive health rights and justice backgrounds”.

Rabhan said NCJW will fight abortion restrictions at the State level, helping those with more liberal abortion laws serve as “sanctuary states” and fundraising to help women pay for abortions.

“Judaism permits and sometimes requires abortion if the life and the health of the mother is at risk,” Rabhan says.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is also calling on supporters to donate to abortion aid funds and contact their lawmakers.

Last month a synagogue sued Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over the state’s 15-week abortion ban.

They argued it directly conflicts with a Jewish belief that abortion “is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman.

“Jewish law is very clear: Human life begins at birth, and up until the time of birth, a woman has autonomy to make the decision for herself,” Rabbi Barry Silver says.

“This law criminalises Judaism and a bunch of other religions,” he said.

He noted that DeSantis signed the bill into law at an evangelical Christian church, where speakers discussed prayer and religious themes.

“They just did it right in a church and said, ‘Oh, God’s going to protect us,’ and ‘God is watching over us,’” he said. “It’s grotesquely un-American and unconstitutional.”

“You will see lots of lawsuits like this.”



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