Local groups react to leaked Supreme Court draft that might overturn Roe v. Wade

Ellen Futterman, Editor-in-Chief

Local Jewish advocacy groups reacted Tuesday to news of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito about the future of Roe v. Wade as it relates to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Clinic case currently before the Court.

Rori Picker Neiss, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said the Jewish community’s position on reproductive health “is guided by the tenets of equal protection under the law, freedom of religious expression and the separation of religion and state.”

JCRC on the Supreme Court leaked opinion

“The Jewish Community Relations Council affirms that rabbis in our community offer private and compassionate pastoral care to individuals who seek out spiritual guidance on a range of matters related to their reproductive health, allowing individuals to consider the rich teachings of the Jewish tradition while making their own decisions,” Picker Neiss said. “We affirm the importance of respect for the expression of differing points of view—an essential element in our pluralistic society.

“The JCRC recognizes that Jewish tradition affirms the value of human life and that decisions about abortion involve theological views that differ within the Jewish community. Yet, we maintain that governmental attempts to legislate these views invade the religious liberty and religious pluralism guaranteed individuals by the First Amendment. In this area of religious concern, private religious conscience must be protected, and the separation of religion and state respected and upheld.”

To that end, Picker Neiss said her organization is working with a diverse coalition of clergy leaders across the St Louis region to determine the next steps from local faith communities.

NCJWSTL on the Supreme Court leaked opinion

The National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis issued a release stating the organization was “gravely concerned” about the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion.

“As a women’s organization, we know just how critical it is that people have access to the full range of reproductive healthcare services and that includes abortion,” the release said. “As a faith-based organization, we understand just how dangerous it is to let the religious beliefs of some influence public policy that makes medical decisions for all.”

NCJWSTL CEO Ellen Alper added that “since 1895, NCJWSTL has been fighting for individual and civil rights for women, children, and families in our community and throughout the country. This leaked opinion will not stop us from continuing this fight to protect our ability to make personal healthcare choices with our partners, our clergy and our medical providers.”

Alper was adamant that government not legislate personal healthcare decisions. She noted that abortion is still legal and people with appointments for abortions can still get them.

“The law has not changed — this is a draft opinion with no current legal authority. However, while expected, it is no less shocking to read in print decades of precedent overturned with the stroke of a pen,” Alper said.

“We support a world where people respect other people’s personal decisions around parenthood and pregnancy,” the NCJWSTL release stated, “whether those decisions involve giving birth, putting a child up for adoption, having an abortion, or choosing not to have children at all.”