As the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, we support the rights and welfare of women, which is why we are deeply troubled by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade. This ruling not only upends decades of precedent supporting women’s health, but also fundamentally infringes on a person’s bodily autonomy and their First Amendment civil right to religious liberty.
For many Jews, abortion is not only about reproductive rights and a right to privacy, but also about exercising freedom of religion in line with Jewish values. The Jewish perspective on reproductive rights stems from the Torah and Talmud, which explicitly require an abortion to save the life of a mother should the fetus pose a risk to her health. Furthermore, many Jews, but not all, also interpret these texts to permit abortion if the mother believes that having the baby will adversely affect her mental health.
Our sacred Jewish texts, millennia of rabbinic interpretations and Jewish practices and teachings affirm Judaism’s deep reverence for life. Judaism is not the only religion to require or permit abortion depending upon certain circumstances. Islam, the Baha’i faith, and many Christian denominations, including Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians allow abortion, at the very least, to save the life of the mother. This ruling has effectively stripped the ability of millions of Americans from freely practicing their religion.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Community Relations Council will continue to advocate for reproductive freedom, so we may preserve the rights of women to make their own personal decisions, without governmental inference.