The Choice Is Ours
One of the defining terms of the Declaration of Independence, something most of us memorized even before we knew what the words meant, is “unalienable rights”—those so fundamental that no one, not even the government, can take them away.
The rights the Declaration referred to—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—were not originally extended to people of color or to women. But the genius of America is that it has slowly but surely grown into the ideal: Abolition, civil rights, voting rights for African-Americans, voting rights for women (approved by Congress 100 years ago this month), enormous strides toward equality of opportunity, all flowed from that enlightened document drafted by imperfect men.
For those of us who support women’s reproductive freedom, Roe vs. Wade established an unalienable right. The 1973 Supreme Court decision declared that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a right of privacy protecting a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether to bring a pregnancy to term.
Like all the other advances in American liberty, Roe vs. Wade attracted critics from the beginning, but today it is under unprecedented attack. I am sure you all know that a wave of measures in a growing number of state legislatures aims at severely limiting freedom of choice, even in cases of rape or incest. Notably, the Alabama legislature has moved to eliminate pregnancy termination—with the sole exception of when a woman’s life is endangered—and imposing on doctors who perform abortions penalties more severe than those for rape.
The lawmakers passing these state-level bills know they face stiff legal challenges, but they are betting that appeals reaching the U.S. Supreme Court will sooner or later lead to weakening or even overturning freedom of choice.
Hadassah stands unequivocally behind Roe vs. Wade. It has been our policy for decades and in light of the most recent assault on the ruling we have reaffirmed our stance. Throughout our history, we have never worried whether our policy statements were popular or not. But on this issue, we are gratified to stand with the majority. According to the most recent polls, more than 70 percent of the American public supports Roe.
In the purest constitutional form, the question for us is who makes the choice for a pregnant woman—the woman herself or the government? Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, stands with the woman.
Reproductive freedom is good law and good policy. Its elimination would represent suppression of rights and oppression of women, both leading to an increase in depression.
Hadassah’s position is in keeping with our longstanding commitment to advancing women’s health, through the exemplary research and care of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Israel, as well as our health education and grassroots advocacy here in the United States.
We have always supported empowering women with the knowledge to make critical health decisions for themselves and their families. For decades Hadassah members and leaders have mobilized for reproductive freedom—advocating, issuing policy statements and attending rallies around the country.
I urge all Hadassah members—and anyone who believes in a woman’s right to choose—to join us in speaking out, to urge federal and state officials to support women’s preventive health and proactive reproductive rights legislation. Stay informed about state and local policies and get involved, as individuals and with Hadassah groups, in these community initiatives. Hadassah will keep you informed about our advocacy efforts.
Freedom of choice is one of the issues we’ll be discussing at Hadassah’s National Convention next month. There’s still time for you to register and join us, July 15-18, at the Sheraton New York Times Square.
Our nation’s founders recognized the ideal of liberty but the American Revolution was launched with the equal recognition that rights could be taken away. It’s up to us to ensure that freedom of choice endures for ourselves and for the generations to come.
Andrew Szabo says
Katherine A. Kaplan-Locke says
I do NOT support Hadassah’s’ stance on abortion. Recently, the liberals have legalized murder up until the time of birth, along wih questionable, unethical practices of how to treat the babies who are unwanted after birth. A country that believes it is ok to kill its young is very sick indeed.
I used to be pro-choice and I believed that a woman should be able to choose what to do with a pregnancy without any limitations. Then, I joined the #WalkAway movement long before it became a movement. I am proud to say that I am no longer a liberal, and I will NOT support ANY institution that the death of an innocent child; a liberal can argue until they are blue in the face that a fetus is not a person, only a bunch of cells. We were ALL a “bunch of cells” at one time — does that make any of us less worthy of life? You, Madam President, were once a bunch of cells. Had you been aborted, you would not be here today to lead Hadassah.
Ideally, Hadassah needs to stay away from taking a liberal stance on this subject and stick to what it knows best: Zionism and Israel. I cannot, in all good conscience, donate to a group that supports liberal leanings. I am a life member, a mother and grandmother, an RN, and a human being with a conscience. You can count me out! My buck is going to groups that support women with unintended pregnancies and that offer alternatives to murder.
Moe G. says
Well said Katherine. Abortion has evolved from a protection of the mother (which is correct in cases of danger), into a legal right to kill the unborn.
As a proudly Jewish organization, Hadassah needs to stand for what Judaism has always deemed of the upmost importance, and that is human life. As we know, practically all Mitzvot, including Shabbat and others, are pushed to the side when a life is at stake.
As important as the US Declaration of Independence and the amendments are, we must remember that they are not a replacement for our Jewish faith, but rather complement it.
Let us stand for Jewish Values, even when facing adversaries that want to act contrary to it. Culture rises and falls, but the Jewish people will last forever!
Risa Steinberger says
I agree with you 100%. Hadassah needs to pick and choose which Bills to Advocate for or against as they are very specific–such as House Bill 1058 of which my group wants to advocate against. This is merely legislation that will require information to be given to a woman on the option of perinatal hospice care after she is diagnosed with a life-threatening fetal anomaly. This helps a woman in making a well-informed choice!
Mitchell D says
Hadassah needs to stay away from issues that are not central Its cause and will result in lost membership. To break down the abortion debate to a simple matter of choice is disingenuous. A woman cannot “ choose “ to starve her children or not take them for medical care. To abort a fetus who is viable outside the womb is a distinction for many. That choice is not so readily accepted by many. There are controversial issues that Hadassah can only lose taking a side. You cite a 70% statistic. What is it for late term abortions when the fetus is viable? A debatable issue is not settled because one side uses the terms “ progressive ( progress) and “ choice “ and presents the argument that no one should / could be against either. There is more at stake than a semantics argument.
Nancy Hart says
Why does Haddasah have to get involved in this controversy? I joined Haddasah to support Israel and the life saving work at the Haddasah Hospital. And the topic of abortion laws in the US are not our business.
Chris Kenron says
Do we really want to help facilitate a largely unregulated industry that profits from encouraging women to end their pregnancies, puts them at risk of infection and uncontrolled bleeding, covers up methods used to kill babies born alive..? Please read Gosnell, the book or get the word for word Gosnell trial and watch it. Also watch testimonies of adults who managed to survive abortions, left to die in hospitals, but were fortunate enough to have a nurse take pity on them and care for them.
Chris Kenron says
Please just read Gosnell, the book, or watch the movie. Local government looks the other way and fails to regulate the industry.Ps
Victoria Cantor says
Katherine, Moe – Don’t believe in abortion – don’t have one. Being Pro-Choice means allowing for each woman to make a decision about her body and her reproductive rights for herself. In consultation with those she chooses to consult. Her doctor. Her family. Her clergy. Not mine. Not yours. Not her Member of Congress or a judge.
I am proudly a Pro-Choice, Pro-Faith, Pro-Family Life Member of Hadassah and appreciate that Hadassah is part of the leadership ensuring women’s reproductive health and freedom. Thankful that Hadassah works to guarantee access to safe and affordable health care for all. This isn’t an agenda; this is women working to better the lives of all women, across our country and around the world.
Moe G. says
Perhaps you did not read Katherine’s or my comment carefully.
As others have written here as well, Hadassa should not even enter the “ring”, but if it does, being that Hadassa is a Jewish organization, it is logical for Hadassa to take a pro-life choice on the topic and not the pro-choice viewpoint. Why go against what we as Jews hold is dear, which is life.
Hadassa should stick to what it does best, which is supporting Zionism and Israel.