The New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA) condemns the Supreme Court’s decision today in Dobbs v. Jackson to overturn Roe v. Wade. While the leaked Supreme Court opinion draft virtually assured this dark day would come, the heads-up that we received weeks ago does nothing to blunt the trauma of what six Supreme Court Justices did today. The Court turned back the clock on individual liberty and equality through its unprincipled and unprecedented ruling, stripping away what has been recognized as a constitutional right for nearly half a century. Dobbs is the culmination of a concerted effort to eliminate a pregnant person’s right to choose that has been protected for nearly 50 years by a framework that carefully balanced an individual’s liberty against the state’s ability to regulate abortion. Now that framework has been tossed aside, opening the way for states to exercise virtually unfettered control over reproductive choice.
Forcing a person to carry a pregnancy to term is a violation of bodily autonomy, personal liberty and equality. This decision affects people of child-bearing age throughout our nation, who now have less protection for their bodily autonomy than they do in many other countries around the world. Moreover, the decision disproportionately harms low-income women, women of color, young women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities. It increases the number of dangerous and illegal abortions that will be sought out of desperation.
Dobbs also goes against the Jewish and democratic values to which NYJA is dedicated by echoing a narrow religious perspective and right-wing political agenda, and imposing it on the entire country. Jewish law prioritizes the life and health of a pregnant person. Today’s decision, by a Court that earlier this week eviscerated the separation of church and state in the name of protecting religious liberty in Carson v. Makin, runs roughshod over it here, with a ruling that enables states to violate the religious liberty of the many faith traditions that recognize a right of reproductive freedom.
As we seek to absorb the shock of this decision, we take some solace in the fact that we live in New York State, which codified abortion protections into state law in 2019 with the enactment of the Reproductive Health Act, enshrining the constitutional protections established in Roe v. Wade into state law, allowing abortions to be performed up to 24 weeks into the pregnancy. And just two weeks ago, NYJA was present in the Great Hall of Cooper-Union College, site of landmark gatherings that advanced women’s equality in America, to witness New York’s Governor — anticipating today’s decision — sign a package of laws that protects abortion patients and providers
in New York, and provides a safe haven from those out-of-state patients who seek abortion services here in New York, because they have been outlawed in their home states in the wake of Dobbs.
Congress must also enact long-overdue federal statutory protection ensuring safe and legal abortion access nationwide. Moreover, where the Supreme Court and Congress have fallen short in protecting our liberty and equality, New York and the other 49 states must step up. This is true today with respect to abortion justice, and it is abundantly clear that it could be true tomorrow when it comes to other constitutionally-protected rights that could called into question by Dobbs, including marriage equality and access to birth control.
Today’s decision reinforces why it is essential for all New Yorkers to speak up — in New York City, in Albany, in Washington, and to vote in the New York primary elections on June 28 and August 23, and in the midterm elections on Tuesday, November 8.