Urge your Senators to protect abortion access

The legal right to an abortion is meaningless if it is not accessible. Since 2011 alone, more than 600 state laws have been enacted to restrict abortion access, including mandatory waiting periods, parental consent laws, biased counseling, gestational bans, and targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. In 2022 alone, 536 abortion restrictions have been introduced across the country, with Oklahoma’s governor signing a total abortion ban into law and Florida’s governor signing a 15-week abortion ban into law. As a result of these state restrictions and the Supreme Court's apparent opposition to upholding Roe v. Wade, hundreds of clinics have been forced to close, providers are denied the ability to provide necessary medical procedures, and patients are unable to obtain the health care services they need. 

On September 24, 2021, the House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act (S. 1975/H.R. 3755). The bill was reintroduced into the 117th Congress by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA-27), Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16) and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). The Women's Health Protection Act would put a stop to the coordinated attacks on reproductive freedom by establishing a statutory right for health care providers to provide, and their patients to receive, abortion services free of restrictions and bans that delay or obstruct access to care.

With Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance, we must pursue proactive policies that protect abortion beyond the court. Help protect abortion access from medically unnecessary bans and restrictions. Thank your Representatives for passing and Urge your Senators to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).

Background

While the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional right to abortion with its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, subsequent state restrictions have severely undermined the court’s precedent. Since 2011, state legislatures have enacted more laws restricting abortion access than in the entire preceding decade. Though abortion remains legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, these restrictions and bans have rendered abortion access inaccessible, unaffordable, and out of reach for millions of Americans.

Through targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws, gestational bans, waiting periods that effectively require patients to make two separate trips to the clinic, and more, state governments are interfering with the ability to access abortion care on an unprecedented level.

This spring, the Supreme Court will decide the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the most consequential abortion rights case in generations. This case directly challenges the right to abortion affirmed by Roe v. Wade—that everyone has autonomy over their bodies and has the right to decide whether they want to continue a pregnancy—and the fundamental right to live with autonomy, dignity, and equality.

It is urgent—a leaked draft decision indicated that the Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade. Overturning Roe v. Wade will cause irreparable harm to Americans. Overturning Roe means 26 states could move to ban abortion including 13 states with laws that could immediately go into effect. Even before the US Supreme Court rules on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, anti-abortion policymakers are preemptively flooding statehouses with restrictive bills in hopes that federal protections for abortion rights will soon be gone.

The Women’s Health Protection Act takes crucial steps towards protecting access to abortion by creating federal protections against state restrictions such as TRAP laws and pre-viability gestational bans on the basis that such restrictions fail to protect reproductive health and intrude upon personal decision-making and moral agency.

Jewish Values

Our Jewish tradition teaches that providing health care is not just an obligation for the patient and the doctor, but for all of  society. It is for this reason that Maimonides listed health care first on his list of the ten most important communal services that a city has to offer to its residents (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De'ot IV: 23).

Further, the rabbis tell us that a physician’s job is to heal, and if they withhold medical care, it is as if they have shed blood. “The Torah has granted the physician permission to heal, and it is a religious duty which comes under the rule of saving an endangered life. If he withholds treatment, he is regarded as one who sheds blood.” (Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 336:1).

Regressive state laws that prevent physicians and other providers from providing health care is in direct opposition to this sacred duty.

Take action by urging your Senators to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (S. 1975/H.R. 3755). 

For More Information: For more information on reproductive rights, visit the RAC’s reproductive rights page on our website or contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Lillie Heyman. 

This action alert is part of the WRJ-RAC Reproductive Health & Rights Campaign partnership. By signing this alert you will be added to the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) advocacy email lists to be kept up-to-date on these issues.

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