For others, the only America they knew was a country where abortion was legal and women’s reproductive rights were protected. That was until last year, when the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization removed the constitutional right to abortion and the ability for millions of people to access it. It is vital that younger generations do not become complacent when women’s rights are taken away.
Today, our children and grandchildren face a world in which women’s rights and access to safe reproductive health care are declining, undoing the hard-won gains made decades ago. The number of states that have already enacted laws restricting access to abortion is staggering. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 12 states enforce near-total bans on abortion with very limited exceptions, and four states have laws banning abortion after a certain point in pregnancy, which would have been unconstitutional under Roe. In addition, the recent federal court ruling on the abortion drug mifepristone threatens to further restrict women’s access to safe abortions across the country.
The impact of these restrictions on women’s lives and health cannot be overemphasized. Studies have shown that women who are denied access to legal abortions are more likely to have higher maternal mortality rates and negative mental health outcomes, delay access to essential prenatal care, experience increased poverty, and seek unsafe abortions, all of which are threats for women’s health and well-being.
As a Jewish organization working for women of all faiths, the National Council of Jewish Women is particularly committed to lifting prohibitions against classes of individuals, and abolishing laws affecting the free practice of religion for everyone. Jewish law protects and supports reproductive rights, and considers the decision to terminate a pregnancy at least a personal one. Restrictions on reproductive rights violate the right of Jews to make decisions about their lives in accordance with the principles of their religion.
NCJW Bergen County Section partners with Thrive New Jersey, the nationwide reproductive health coalition. As we have done for 100 years, NCJW BCS fights for women’s ability to fully exercise their health and reproductive rights and make informed decisions about their own bodies and lives for the betterment of themselves, their children and their families. To this end, it is critical that we protect women’s reproductive rights and ensure access to safe and legal abortion. We must fight against the harmful restrictions that prevent women from making their independent choice and accessing the care they need. We do this by fighting back against restrictive state laws and working to pass federal legislation that protects and expands access to abortion care.
To fight effectively against those who want to take away our freedoms, we must be educated and help educate our younger generations. We need to understand how our federal courts and judges play a vital role in this battle. We need to understand how issues such as immigration, voting rights, economic justice and much more intersect and affect access to essential reproductive health services. We must use our voice and refuse to be silenced. We must take action.
May 28 is International Day of Action for Women’s Health and we ask everyone to educate themselves, stand up and use their voices to help fight for women’s reproductive freedom. These attacks and regressions should fuel our mobilization as we remain steadfast. We are stronger and louder when we come together. For more information and to learn how to take action, visit www.ncjw.org , International Day of Action for Women’s Health and Thrive New Jersey.
Elaine Meyerson and Ina Miller-Silverstein Are co-chairs of the Bergen County Section National Council of Jewish Women.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ Reproductive Rights: Educating Youth About Importance