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Jewish Groups Cheer Supreme Court Ruling Backing Abortion Rights

Several national Jewish organizations applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday striking down a Texas law that restricted access to abortion.

In a 5-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said the HB2 law, which mandates that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, was unconstitutional. The law would have required nearly half the state’s abortion clinics to shut down.

Texas officials said the law was intended to protect women’s health.

“The court’s decision appropriately recognizes the real-life impact of HB2 on access to abortion,” said Deborah Lauter, the Anti-Defamation League’s senior vice president of policy and programs, in a news release. “This ruling is a victory for reproductive justice and gender equality in America.”

ADL was among the 48 organizations that joined with the National Women’s Law Center on a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt that highlighted the negative impact of the restrictions on women, particularly those of color, with low incomes and in low-wage jobs. Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Jewish Women International and Women of Reform Judaism also signed on to the brief.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, also praised the ruling, saying in a statement that it strikes down “unnecessarily burdensome and medically inaccurate provisions that aimed to restrict access to abortion.”

“This historic decision ensures that women in Texas and across the United States face fewer barriers to receiving legal healthcare services,” Pesner continued. “Jewish tradition teaches the importance of a woman’s ability to make her own healthcare decisions. That principle is as true today as it was in Medieval times when Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides wrote that ‘Women are commanded to care for the health and well-being of their bodies above all else.’”

In another statement, Nancy Kaufman of the National Council of Jewish Women called the ruling a “huge victory for every woman who seeks to make her own decisions about her health, family, and future. It goes a long way toward restoring the promise of Roe v. Wade — that abortion is a right protected by the US constitution.”

Jewish Women International CEO Lori Weinstein said in a statement that the ruling “affirmed what women and advocates have long known: That sham laws like HB2 are ‘a substantial obstacle’ for women seeking abortion, and that this type of ‘undue burden on abortion access’ is absolutely unconstitutional.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a concurring opinion, dismissed the state’s contention that the construction of costly ambulatory surgical centers for a relatively safe procedure like abortion was intended to protect women’s health.

“The Texas law called H. B. 2 inevitably will reduce the number of clinics and doctors allowed to provide abortion services,” Ginsburg wrote. “It is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women.”

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