If you’re anything like me, you’ve been watching the recent anti-abortion laws being passed all over the country and cursing all the men who told us reproductive rights were safe in 2016. Because for the first time in a while, we can’t trust the judiciary to strike down these outrageous laws that clearly violate Roe v. Wade and the later clarifying case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The latest of these bills was signed by Governor Kemp last week in Georgia. This “fetal heartbeat” bill outlaws abortions at about six weeks (or when your period is two weeks late). This is now the most extreme anti-abortion law in the country because it actually seeks to punish women who get illegal abortions with life in prison or even the death penalty. Georgia is the sixth state to pass a fetal heartbeat abortion ban. The list includes Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa, and North Dakota. The vote to pass Alabama’s six-week ban was postponed until next week.
Now that I’ve spent a few days cursing the loss of a sane judiciary, the next question is what can we do? As Jewish women, we have a special duty to fight these laws. Our religion allows for abortion but more than that, it prioritizes the life of the mother above all else during a pregnancy. According to Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, abortion should also be protected by the 1st amendment under freedom of religion. In this Twitter thread Rabbi Ruttenberg emphasizes that a fetus isn’t a person until birth and that, according to Jewish law, a fetus should be sacrificed to save the mother until the infant’s head has emerged.
Many of us understandably feel hopeless but there are a number of concrete things we can do:
1. If you live in a state that is considering passing a restrictive abortion law, call your representatives immediately. These calls work because politicians want to be re-elected. You can find your representatives here.
2. Pay attention to when the senate is considering a federal judicial appointment and call your senators to tell them to vote no if the judge is anti-choice.
3. Prioritize reproductive rights in 2020 for all offices. Ask or research where your politicians stand and make clear you wont be voting for anyone who isn’t staunchly pro-choice.
4. Here’s the big one. Donate (or volunteer!) to local reproductive justice organizations. They are doing the real work to protect women on the ground in states with these restrictive laws. Here are some to check out:
• If you want to donate to support the legal challenges to these laws or to fighting the criminalization of pregnancy, donate to the Center for Reproductive Rights or the National Advocates for Pregnant Women
• Reproductive justice is also a current priority of the National Council of Jewish Women
There’s no question that this is a scary time for reproductive rights and there are days when it feels hopeless, but there are things we can and must do as Jewish women to protect the reproductive rights of all people who can get pregnant.