Repro Shabbat Is Critically Important Right Now

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On Friday, February 9, WHC will participate in the National Council of Jewish Women’s (NCJW) Annual Repro Shabbat, a Shabbat service that honors the Jewish value of reproductive freedom. This Shabbat service occurs annually on Parshat Mishpatim, our reading that contains the verses commonly referenced as the foundation of Judaism’s approach to reproductive justice.

Our Jewish values compel us to support full access to safe and legal abortion care as basic health care. Jewish law does not state that life begins at conception. Indeed, Jewish sources explicitly state that abortion is not only permitted but is required should the pregnancy endanger the life or health (physical or mental) of the pregnant person. Judaism values life and affirms that protecting existing life is paramount at all stages of pregnancy.

The Reform Movement’s positions on reproductive justice are grounded in the core belief that each person should have autonomy over their own body. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC), the social justice arm of the Union of Reform Judaism, centers its advocacy for abortion access on the Jewish value of kavod ha’briyot, respect for individual dignity. Additionally, the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) has a national campaign for reproductive health and rights with opportunities for individuals to get more involved.

From a reproductive justice perspective, merely keeping abortion legal is not sufficient to ensure everyone has that right. Multiple identities or factors, such as race, income, sexual orientation, and geography, affect a person’s ability to shape their own reproductive rights and have full access to all forms of health care. Lives are truly in jeopardy if we do not achieve reproductive justice.

WHC has long been involved with reproductive justice work. Through NCJW, Rabbi Fischel, some congregants, and other Reform congregations participate in early morning Shabbat services each month at a Northern Virginia health care clinic in support of reproductive justice. Please contact Rabbi Fischel if you are interested in joining her one Saturday morning or would like to receive training to be an escort at any of the D.C. metro area clinics.

This past October, WHC hosted a well-attended panel discussion entitled Reproductive Rights in America: From the Jane Collective to the Post-Dobbs Health and Legal Landscape. Panelists included one of “The Janes,” the incredible women in the 1960s-’70s who provided counseling and abortions in Chicago pre-Roe; a lawyer from the Center for Reproductive Rights, who was co-counsel on the Dobbs case; a local physician who provides abortion counseling and abortions; and our own Rabbi Shankman, who offered the Jewish values perspective. Women of WHC sponsored a lunch afterwards.

You can learn more about opportunities to advance reproductive justice locally at Repro Shabbat, Friday, February 9, 6:00 pm at Temple, or by contacting WHC member Linda Adams at