Roe v. What?

For someone in her early 20s, forty years ago feels like a different era. After all, it was a time before cell phones, before laptops, before Twitter and Facebook. Did such a world even exist, I sometimes find myself wondering?

 Apparently, I’m not alone in my lack of concern for or even knowledge of the world of the 1970s. A recent poll found that among those under the age of 30, only 44% know that Roe v. Wade, the landmark court case, even dealt with abortion. This is not to say that when questioned, “millenials” (those ages 18-29) disagree with Roe’s legalization of abortion – 68% of us think that at least some health care professionals should provide legal abortions, and an overwhelming 60% think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. However, our striking lack of knowledge about our past can be dangerous for as Jews keenly understand, not forgetting the past is essential to the maintenance of justice and progress in the present.

 Today – the 40th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade court decision – gives us just such an opportunity to pay tribute to those who fought for the reproductive health of this generation, and to look toward the challenges we face in the future. There are a multitude of ways for you, your synagogue and your community to commemorate this occasion:

  • Read: On the Women of Reform Judaism’s blog, there will be a series entitled “4 Voices on the 40th” where you can read the personal stories of four women across four generations, and how they relate to Roe v. Wade and issues of reproductive justice. Share these stories with others around you, and feel free to share your own story in the “comments” section of the blog.
  • Learn: Read last Friday’s “10 Minutes of Torah” for more insight on the Jewish perspective regarding reproductive rights. Open up a conversation at your synagogue on this topic, and on what responsibilities we as Jews have toward ensuring reproductive justice for everyone in our communities.
  • Educate: The RAC’s Reproductive Rights webpage has information on the current status of abortion and family planning rights in the U.S. (and how dramatically these rights chane as you cross state lines), as well as a section on why we as Jews should care about this crucial issue. Use the Roe v. Wade Anniversary as an opportunity to learn about your own rights, and to educate others on the fights that are still ongoing.
  • Share: Tell us what your congregations are doing, so we can share your ideas and successes with a broader audience. Email Sarah Krinsky, RAC Legislative Assistant, with any stories or information from your home synagogue.
  • Act:  Heed the creed to not stand idly by. Send a letter to your member of Congress. Tell people around you that you care about reproductive rights and that they should too. See this list of 40 action pieces put together by the National Council of Jewish Women for other ideas on how to get involved.