Jewish leaders speak out against abortion law

Letters to the editor

We, the undersigned Jewish community leaders, take a public stand against the abortion ban (HB126) which Missouri Governor Mike Parson recently signed into law. The ban threatens the lives of women, their families, Missouri’s economy and our future. 

We believe strongly that pregnant people and their physicians are the only ones who should make personal private decisions about legal abortion, not Parson or any other legislator.  Abortions are needed for a variety of reasons at various stages of pregnancy, including tragic decisions of pregnancies gone horribly wrong and those decisions must remain personal and private. 

Like the majority of Missourians, we believe:

• The decision to give birth is best made by someone who is pregnant, their family and their doctor; it should remain a private voluntary decision, not the result of rape or incest and a decision made without the intrusion of the government. 

• Women’s access to reproductive healthcare determines their education, career and economic status.  When government intervenes in reproductive healthcare access, women’s economic security is threatened.  Bans on safe, legal abortion discourage individuals from remaining in Missouri and even businesses from locating to our state.

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• We know that women are essential drivers of Missouri’s economic growth.  That growth is prevented when our state denies women’s access to reproductive healthcare and family planning services. Missouri needs the unfettered talent and productivity of women to move our economy forward. We cannot afford to lose such valuable resources to other states.

• There is compelling evidence in Missouri that programs supporting medically-accurate sex education and affordable contraceptives, significantly reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. These effective programs should be expanded and combined with public policies that address the fundamental health and economic concerns. Criminalizing abortion only puts more women’s lives at risk and the doctors who care for them.

• In passing the ban, Parson and the state legislature violated their oaths of office to support the rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, guaranteed by both the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions.  Restricting access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, violates fundamental human rights to privacy and the right to bodily autonomy. 

We urge the state to reverse the abortion ban and ask Missouri voters to repeal the law by supporting a statewide referendum. We, the undersigned, will work toward that goal, the policy changes noted above and encourage others to do the same.   

Over 350 community members have signed on to this letter to date at www.NOBanMO, including many leaders in our Jewish community:

  • Hon. Stacey Newman, Former State Representative
  • Ellen Alper, National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis
  • Darien Arnstein, NCJW STL
  • Barbara Finch, Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice
  • Marlene Hammerman, NCJW STL
  • Susan Katzman, NCJW STL
  • Amy Kuo Hammerman,  NCJW STL
  • Nancy Litz,  NCJW STL

We are proud to include our names as faith leaders who fully understand the dire consequences of this extreme abortion ban:   

  • Rabbi Jim Bennett, Congregation Shaare Emeth
  • Rabbi Andrea Goldstein, Shaare Emeth
  • Rabbi Rori Picker Neiss, Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis
  • Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose, Congregation B’nai Amoona
  • Rabbi Scott Shafrin, Kol Rinah 
  • Rabbi Scott Slarskey
  • Rabbi Emeritus Jeffrey Stiffman, Shaare Emeth
  • Rabbi Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation
  • Cantor Seth Warner, Shaare Emeth