The Jewish community needs to step up and speak out for abortion rights
There are many reasons that Sarah Tuttle-Singer’s piece, “My Jewish Abortion,” in Tuesday’s Kveller, was so gratifying to read. (It’s probably better to avoid reading the comments, which are a combination of affirmation and praise and slut shaming, which is what happens when women say their truths.)
It’s not the idea of a Jewish woman having an abortion that I found so startling—Gloria Steinem, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, and others have told their stories. Whenever women write or talk about their abortion experience, it helps to remove the stigma and demystify the procedure and the decison making process of the woman herself, since one of the favorite tropes of the anti choice movement is that women cannot be trusted to make thoughtful choices about reproductive health care of any kind. (72 hour waiting period, anyone?)
It’s rare, and unfortunately, radical that any remotely mainstream media outlet would acknowledge that abortion is parenting, which Kveller does, by virtue of including this piece in the blog. But what’s also surprising, and which Tuttle-Singer’s piece reminded me, is that in the time that Republicans have been attacking access to abortion and birth control (and the concept of women’s bodily integrity as a whole), the organized Jewish community has remained silent, the exception being the ever vigilant and awesomely unapologetic National Council on Jewish Women. (If there’s been a giant outcry against the “War on Women” by the Jewish community, and I’ve somehow missed it, correct me. I would love to be wrong.)
Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am. While so many Jewish organizations work on domestic issues, there seems to be no lens applied to the fact that not having reproductive health care impedes one’s ability to access and maintain employment and take care of existing children. This is all tied together, not to mention the fact that Jews are demonstrably pro choice.
If ever we wanted to help folks make connections between their own lives and the lives of those we seek to “help,” the idea of abortion and birth control being accessible to no one is a pretty compelling scenario.
As long as the well organized Jewish community at large remains silent, the burden of protecting reproductive freedom is being left to women, seeing to it that abortion remains a “women’s issue,” instead of a health care issue, promoting its further marginalization. Like birth control, women need to be backed up.