As we approach the 42nd anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the Bergen County Section of the National Council of Jewish Women urges lawmakers to end efforts that hinder access to abortion.
Roe established the principle that every woman has the right to make her own decisions about her reproductive health, including whether or not to end a pregnancy. NCJW supports Roe and believes that every woman should have both the right and the ability to make these personal decisions based on her own religious, moral, or ethical beliefs.
Since 2010, lawmakers in more than two dozen states have tried to make abortion more difficult and more costly for women to access and for health professionals to provide. Such obstacles not only erode a woman’s constitutional right under Roe, but fall hardest on those who are least able to overcome barriers like cost, impeding a vision of justice for all women and families.
The current federal ban, known as the Hyde Amendment, restricts coverage of abortion in federal health plans or programs and denies a woman her right to make her own decision about abortion, except in very limited cases. Hyde discriminates against a woman simply because she is poor or enrolled in a federal health program. Low-income women, women of color, immigrant women and young women are hurt the most. In addition, it also restricts care for military personnel and federal employees.
NCJW urges President Obama to exclude the Hyde Amendment policy from the budget he will propose to Congress, which will be released in early February. The organization also looks forward to the reintroduction of federal legislation, the Women’s Health Protection Act, aimed to protect women’s health from arbitrary, medically unnecessary state restrictions, such as those that result in clinic closures.
Although often justified as protecting women’s health, onerous restrictions on providers and women seeking abortion, in fact, make safe abortion more difficult to access. They exacerbate the inequalities already permeating our health care system and culture. Women of color, poor women, rural women, among others, are relegated to second-class status when such laws are enacted.
The Bergen County Section plans to observe the 42nd anniversary of Roe by redoubling its efforts to ensure that abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible for all women, no matter their income, insurance, race, where they live, or other factors.