On November 1, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) staff and advocates rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court in support of abortion access while the Court held oral arguments in Whole Women’s Health v. Jackson and US v. Texas, the two cases challenging SB 8, the law virtually banning abortion in the state of Texas. SB 8 allows private citizens to sue anyone who performs an abortion or helps make one possible after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, and most harms people of color, immigrants, and low-income people seeking abortions. Since individuals, rather than government officials, are tasked with enforcing the law, abortion providers and supporters have employed novel strategies to challenge the law. Yesterday’s arguments focused on these strategies and not the underlying constitutionality of the law itself.
NCJW works for access to abortion because of our Jewish tradition, not in spite of it. Jewish law views abortion as essential health care, not only permitted but in some cases commanded when a life is at risk. The Texas law prevents Jews and other people of faith from practicing their religion by preventing them from making reproductive decisions in line with their tradition and putting rabbis and clergy at risk for recommending an abortion according to Jewish teaching.
NCJW eagerly awaits a decision in these cases, and calls on the Court to reinstate the injunction putting SB 8 on hold while it is being challenged. Next month, NCJW will be back at the Supreme Court on December 1 for oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case from Mississippi challenging the underlying constitutional right to abortion established in Roe.