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Reproductive Rights

National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods

In 1913, the women of Reform Judaism, who were organized in independent, local synagogue sisterhoods founded in the 1890s and 1900s, united to create a national organization of women dedicated to religion. Reform Jewish women joined the American women of the era who established a host of voluntary associations to further various social and communal agendas.

National Council of Jewish Women

When the National Council of Jewish Women was founded in 1893, it was the first national organization in history to unite Jewish women to promote the Jewish religion. That its commitment to preserve Jewish heritage in a quickly modernizing America would be fraught with contradictions was not readily apparent in the optimistic surroundings of the World Parliament of Religions, convened as part of the Chicago World Exposition.

Nita M. Lowey

As cochair of the Bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey made women’s health issues a priority. In the fiscal year of 1995, when the National Institutes of Health received only a three percent increase in funding, Lowey secured a seventeen percent increase in funding for breast cancer research. As a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, she works to achieve safety from terrorism for all Americans. Also serving on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Lowey is a staunch supporter of the State of Israel.

Elizabeth Holtzman

A member of the generation that came of age in the 1960s, Elizabeth Holtzman has pursued a public career epitomizing some of the most important trends in postwar American and Jewish life. In her successive roles as a congresswoman, Brooklyn district attorney, and comptroller of New York City, she emerged as an effective and activist public servant, a forceful campaigner, and a champion of liberal and feminist causes. Her career illustrates the recent empowerment of ambitious, highly motivated, professional young women and the increasing role of Jewish figures in electoral politics. In addition, she has been a dedicated Jew, with a highly regarded record of communal commitment and achievement.

Health Activism, American Feminist

American women have been the “perennial health care reformers.” According to Carol Weisman, professor of Health Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health: “Activism around women’s health has tended to occur in waves and to coincide with other social reform movements, including peaks in the women’s rights movements.” At all of those pivotal moments, Jewish women have played central roles.

Jane Harman

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Smith College in 1966, Jane Harman graduated from Harvard Law School in 1969 and became a member of the bar in the District of Columbia. She has two children, Brian Frank and Hilary Frank, from her nine-year first marriage to Richard Frank. She also has two younger children, Daniel Geier Harman and Justine Leigh Harman, with her husband Sidney Harman, an audio equipment manufacturer, whom she married in 1980.

Elsa Zylberstein

Appearing in more than three films a year, Zylberstein is certainly one of the most sought-after young French actors. Throughout, Elsa Zylberstein has also enjoyed a successful career in the theater, appearing in plays by Pirandello and Anouilh as well as in adaptations of successful American playwrights.

Marie Pichel Levinson Warner

Warner pursued that health problem, as well as infertility, in research and in practice, as assistant medical director at Margaret Sanger’s Clinical Research Bureau from 1927 to 1936, and medical director of the Family Planning Clinic in Harlem (beginning in 1933), run in conjunction with the New York Urban League. The bulk of Warner’s professional commitments focused on the birth control movement.

Simone Veil

Simone Veil is arguably the one person most responsible for advancing women’s legal rights in France during the twentieth century. As her country's first female Minister of Health, Veil fought against great opposition to have a woman's right to an abortion enshrined in French law. She went on to become the first woman—and the first Holocaust survivor—to be appointed president of the European Parliament.

Elsie K. Sulzberger

Elsie K. (Elsepet Kohet) Sulzberger had an important public career through her leadership in the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and in the early twentieth-century birth control movement.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Reproductive Rights." (Viewed on December 17, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/reproductive-rights>.

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