In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—the decisions that affirmed 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. This decision gives the greenlight to abortion bans in states across the country, forcing millions to travel out-of-state to receive the care they need. This decision also threatens other fundamental rights, including the right to contraception.
Tell Congress to pass legislation that protects fundamental reproductive rights and freedom.
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey, leaving abortion rights up to the states. As a result of these laws and the Supreme Court’s decision, patients and providers risk criminalization, 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.
This decision will cause irreparable harm to Americans. Overturning Roe means 26 states are likely to ban abortion including 13 states with laws that will soon or have already gone into effect. Even before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban at issue in Dobbs, more than 600 state laws have been enacted to restrict abortion access since 2011. These abortion bans cause many to travel hundreds of miles across state lines to obtain the care that they need. On the federal level, one of the most notable and longstanding restrictions is the Hyde Amendment which bans federal insurance coverage of abortion services, keeping abortion care unaffordable and out of reach for many, especially low-income people.
In Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, he urged the Court to reconsider its 1965 Griswold decision, which established a constitutional right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives without government restriction and paved the way for the legalization of birth control for unmarried couples. Several states have already restricted access to contraception by cutting off public funding for it, erroneously defining abortion in such a way to include contraception.
Access to affordable family planning services equips individuals with the necessary tools to shape their lives and futures. Family planning can reduce maternal mortality by preventing unwanted pregnancies, protect the health of children by allowing sufficient time between pregnancies, and help stabilize population growth. Access to affordable family planning services can also disrupt cycles of poverty.
In response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe and Casey, the House of Representatives passed:
- the Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 8296/S. 4132), which would create a new legal protection for the right to provide and access abortion care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions and bans on abortion
- the Right to Contraception Act (H.R. 8373), which would codify access to contraceptives on the federal level, allowing individuals to obtain and use birth control and safeguarding a health care provider’s ability to supply such products.
- the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022 (H.R. 8297), which would prohibit interference with the provision of, access to, or assistance for abortion care across state lines. It would reaffirm the right to interstate travel so that people traveling to seek abortion care, and the people who help them, are able to do so without the threat of civil or criminal penalties
The Senate must now pass these bills and do whatever is in their power to protect access to abortion and the fundamental right to reproductive healthcare.
To protect access to abortion and reproductive health services, Congress must also pass:
- the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH Act) [H.R. 2234/S. 1021], which seeks to repeal the Hyde Amendment, and would guarantee that every person who receives health care or insurance through a federal plan or program has coverage for abortion.
- the Abortion is Health Care Everywhere Act (H.R. 1670), which seeks to repeal the 1973 Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act and authorize the use of certain foreign assistance funds to provide comprehensive reproductive health care services.
- The Expanding Access to Family Planning Act (H.R. 8424/ S. 4550) to increase investments in the Title X family planning program. Title X grants support the provision of affordable birth control, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment, cancer screenings, and other family planning and sexual health care to all who need it, with a focus on patients living with low or no incomes and those who have no insurance or are underinsured.
Urge Congress to protect abortion access and reproductive freedom by passing these bills.
Life is sacred in Judaism. Banning potentially life-saving medical procedures and interfering with a patient’s decision-making and moral agency runs contrary to the Jewish commandment to protect life. This belief, combined with biblical and rabbinic emphasis on human dignity, has led the Reform Movement to view the life of the pregnant individual as paramount, placing a stronger emphasis on protecting existing life than on potential life (Exodus 21:22-23).
Furthermore, 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.
For more information on Reproductive Health and Rights, contact Legislative Assistant Lillie Heyman at email@example.com.