JSPAN Responds to Texas Abortion Access Ruling

The HB2 law intended to grossly restrict abortion access by decreasing the amount of clinics in the state.

On June 27, the Supreme Court threw out a Texas abortion access law, a 5-3 ruling, which many abortion rights supporters saw as a victory for women’s rights.
The HB2 law intended to grossly restrict abortion access by significantly decreasing the amount of clinics in the state and making them more difficult to enter.
The Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN) released a statement the day after the ruling, applauding the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The Court held that the restraints — requiring that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital and that abortion clinics conform to ambulatory surgical center regulations — amounted to an ‘undue burden’ on women’s access to abortion,” it read. “JSPAN is firmly committed to supporting a woman’s right to access safe and legal abortion services and has consistently opposed restriction on that right.”
Jewish Family and Children’s Service did not wish to add comment on the ruling.
The Orthodox Union Advocacy Center did not return a message to the Exponent either.
“The Texas law called HB2 inevitably will reduce the number of clinics and doctors allowed to provide abortion services,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a statement. “It is beyond rational belief that HB2 could genuinely protect the health of women.”
Rabbi George Stern, JSPAN executive director, said he believes most Jews would agree with the ruling.
“For me, I believe that a woman should be able to control her body,” he said. “I think that it is also, in part, an issue of religious freedom, which is to say there are religious groups that take various positions on abortion and, therefore, on abortion access. By interfering with that, this Texas law and others like it actually make it more difficult for some people to follow their own moral and religious dictates.
“JSPAN has also supported maintaining the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that make sure that women have access to abortion and birth control services in some way, even if their employers — like an arm of the Catholic Church — themselves are not comfortable or refuse to provide the service to those individuals through their own health plans,” he added.
Stern also said that in Jewish law, abortion technically is not considered murder.
According to MyJewishLearning.com, murder in Jewish law is based upon Exodus 21:12: “He that smiteth a man so that he dieth shall surely be put to death.”
The website explained: “The word ‘man’ is interpreted by the sages to mean a man but not a fetus. Thus, the destruction of an unborn fetus is not considered murder.”
“Personhood is part of the issue: When does a fetus become a person? I think for Catholics and for others, it’s while it’s still in the womb, and for Jews it’s after it’s born,” Stern continued. “It’s considered to be part of the mother until it’s born, and you’re not killing the mother, so that’s also why in Jewish law — and this I think there’d be agreement on [among Jews] — an abortion to save the life of the mother is appropriate, whereas for Catholics, they would save the child rather than the mother.” 
Contact: rkurland@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0737


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