By Eleanor Levie
We knew this day would come — even as those on both sides of the abortion issue said, “Oh, Roe v. Wade will never be overturned.”
But as an active member of the National Council of Jewish Women for more than three decades, I have long recognized the fragility of our abortion rights.
I was 21 when Roe was passed in 1973. I knew of college students, looking to finish their studies and embark on careers, finding the means to travel to New York City for a costly but legal abortion. I knew of mothers who had all the children they could handle and afford who subjected themselves to questioning by judges and psychiatrists so they could get a legal abortion.
Meanwhile, anyone struggling to make ends meet but desperate to secretly end a pregnancy risked life, health and infertility by taking matters into their own hands or undergoing an unsafe, illegal abortion. Many of them died.
Now the high court has opened the floodgates to state legislatures to ban abortion outright. This will not end abortion. Pregnant people will always strive to maintain control over their own bodies and lives, in consultation with their doctors, their loved ones, their clergy.
NCJW will continue the fight with our allies to ensure that one’s zip code, citizenship status, social and economic level, race, religion or personal circumstances will not prevent individuals from accessing reproductive rights.
Educated and strengthened by the leadership, advocacy tools and support of NCJW, we have long been speaking out to defend all our rights and freedoms. We have stressed the importance of electing a president who would nominate only fair and independent individuals for the Supreme Court — and the lower federal courts as well.
We have sounded the call to action, galvanizing the Jewish community and those who share our values to contact our senators and urge them to confirm only those judges and justices who will defend our constitutional rights.
We live by our mission to improve the lives of women, children and families and to safeguard rights and freedom. In partnership with the National Abortion Federation, NCJW has established the Jewish Fund for Abortion Access, which will help provide support and resources to any individual unable to access abortion care.
It may take decades to reverse this decision. But we pledge to do all we can to ensure that all people can still exercise their own reproductive choices.
Eleanor Levie is a longtime NCJW volunteer and chair of federal judiciary nominations for NCJW in Pennsylvania.