Summer interns hear Reform views on reproductive rights

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

A group of college interns learned about the Reform movement’s position on reproductive rights last week in Washington.

The Reform movement takes a clear policy on the abortion issue, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the movement’s Religious Action Center, told the group.

“When life begins is a complex theological question,” he said. “It doesn’t belong to legislators, it belongs to women. The ancient rabbis had a humble sense of perspective of how complex and human we are. In the Reform movement, if the choice is between the life of mother and potential life in her, the life of the mother comes first.”

He said the Reform movement extends the argument to say the concern isn’t only if the mother is dying; rather her emotional health and well-being matter, too.

Tali Ramo, manager for youth organizing for Planned Parenthood, said that in 2019, 26 abortion bans have been passed by 12 states. “The goal of the bans is to bring a challenge to Roe v. Wade,” she said.

In the last eight years, 420 laws passed restricting abortion access, she added; “These laws have no purpose but to shame women and prevent care. The laws have nothing to do with medicine, and everything to do with politics.”

Mollie Becker, a rising senior at University of Texas, said she was excited by the talk. “It was really empowering as a Reform Jew to hear that my religion is not just supportive, but active in the fight for women’s rights and freedoms,” she said.

Corinne Greenblatt, a rising senior at Barnard College, was invigorated by the event. “It reminded me of the incredible power of the Reform movement to articulate a clear moral imperative for political action,” she said.

“It’s more important now than ever that people of faith speak up for reproductive justice,” said Ally Karpel, a legislative assistant for the Religious Action Center.

“In a world where religion is often positioned against civil rights, we have a crucial responsibility to change the narrative. This is the moment to proclaim: As people of faith, we believe abortion is health care.”

Anna Lippe is a Washington-area writer.

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