Statement from the JCRC on the overturn of Roe v. Wade
July 1, 2022
For 50 years, Roe v. Wade has been the “settled law” of the United States. Today, in its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, revoking the Constitutional right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy and sending the authority to regulate reproductive rights back to the states.
Judaism cherishes human life, requiring Jews to set aside all ritual and religious obligations to preserve it. At the same time, Judaism recognizes that a fetus is not an independent individual, and the life and welfare of a pregnant woman takes precedence. Today’s Supreme Court decision strips women of the Constitutional protection to a crucial aspect of self-determination for their own lives and welfare, opening the door for even further restrictions by the states.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando includes rabbis from different denominations and backgrounds. They may disagree on some points of halakhah (Jewish religious law), but they fully concur that access to safe and legal pregnancy termination stands fully within the boundaries of Judaism’s legal framework.
Those who remember the pre-Roe v. Wade era are painfully aware that laws curtailing reproductive rights forced women to put their health and lives at risk to terminate a pregnancy. This alone flies in the face of tenets of Judaism.
Roe v. Wade allowed women to make their own choice — a highly personal, emotional, and difficult choice — regarding a pregnancy. The Supreme Court’s action today takes away that choice, with the very real possibility of causing devastating physical and emotional damage. At no time and in no way did Roe v. Wade ever interfere with a woman’s reproductive choice. Overturning Roe v. Wade most certainly does.
While the motivation for this Supreme Court ruling is not expressly a religious one, it would be naïve to think religious belief was not at all a factor. Overturning Roe v. Wade now allows states to restrict or deny Jewish women, as well as those of other faith traditions and worldviews, access to health care that is permissible under halakhah, through the passage of laws influenced by a particular religious ideology.
There is serious concern that the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling may not only embolden more restrictive state laws but result in targeting other aspects of reproductive health. We stand with the majority of Americans, who support a woman’s right to choose.