Ensuring Access to Abortion in America
On June 12, the governor of Louisiana signed a bill that will close three of the state’s five abortion facilities. Several days later, the only medical provider offering abortion care in northern Alabama shut down. And by September, Texas is expected to have only six abortion clinics. In 2011, that number was 44. Within certain regions of the United States, access to abortion is rapidly vanishing due to legislation known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. These TRAP laws attempt to impose burdensome restrictions on abortion providers and limit various services within a state’s borders.
Growing up in the suburbs of Connecticut, I never had to worry about the government intervening with my reproductive health. However, I cannot say the same for my friends who live in different zip codes. I fear for the women who reside in states such as Alabama and have limited access to facilities that provide them with the care they need. If TRAP laws remain lawful in certain areas, thousands of women will be forced to drive many hours to the nearest clinic or worse, resort to receiving assistance under dangerous and harmful conditions. According to The Atlantic, women in Texas are already beginning to purchase contraceptive pills through the black market.
In Judaism, terminating a pregnancy is permitted in several instances, especially when the mother’s own life is threatened. The Reform Movement specifically advocates for reproductive justice and mirrors the ideas of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which “opposes amendments and legislation which would abridge or circumscribe” a woman’s choice to get an abortion.
It seems to me that TRAP laws contravene the Reform Jewish interpretation of allowing all women to make the health and life choices that are right for them. For instance, many abortion clinics are forced to close their doors because they do not meet certain building requirements that are costly, yet unnecessary, for performing the surgery. And without these clinics, women put their lives in harms way to access contraceptive services. So, what can the Reform community do to ensure the reproductive safety of American women?
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of lobbying on the Hill with the Center for Reproductive Rights through my internship at Planned Parenthood. We met with numerous members of Congress and pushed for the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that seeks to make certain “limitations and requirements concerning abortion services unlawful and prohibits their imposition or application by any government.” We need to look seriously at legislation like the Women’s Health Protection Act to ensure reproductive freedom to women across the nation. State and local governments should not control what women do with their bodies, nor should they indirectly force them to put their lives at risk.