Proposed bans conflict with Jewish law and free exercise of religion for Jewish Virginians
Richmond – Today, former Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, the only Jewish woman currently serving in the General Assembly and the first ever Jewish Speaker of the House of Delegates, was joined by representatives from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, rabbis from Norfolk and Falls Church, and a Jewish physician condemning Governor Youngkin and Virginia Republicans’ proposed abortion bans as they are in conflict with Jewish law, which mandates the termination of a pregnancy in certain circumstances involving the life or health of the mother.
“Virginia is currently a sanctuary state for women in the South who need safe, legal access to abortion,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, 56th Speaker of the Virginia House. “Now, Governor Youngkin and his allies are attempting to use the power of their offices to infringe upon the religious beliefs of Jewish Virginians and put women’s lives at risk. This sets a dangerous precedent that puts the religious views of one group over those of another.”
Days after the Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning nearly 50 years of precedent established by Roe v. Wade, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced he would “gleefully” support any bill that arrived at his desk, and stated he believes life begins at conception. Senator Steve Newman said this week the Governor’s plan would likely involve removing the medical licenses of doctors who perform abortions.
“As a medical professional who has studied the relationship between abortion and Jewish law, I have provided reproductive healthcare to countless women in the Commonwealth, consistent with my Jewish faith.“ Said, Dr. Sara Imershein, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology. “Governor Youngkin and Republican legislators’ efforts to ban abortion will not only put women’s health at risk, but also the livelihoods of respected medical professionals doing everything in their power to provide their patients with compassionate, up-to-date medical care. These archaic efforts will have a chilling effect, scaring top medical talent away from Virginia and forcing doctors to make decisions based on Youngkin’s politics instead of medical science.”
Republican Senator Travis Hackworth already announced he will be introducing a draconian bill in the 2023 legislative session, which would ban all abortions.
“The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade and Governor Youngkin’s push to limit access to safe abortion countermands our faith tradition. Forcing a woman to bear a child, simply contravenes Jewish law and commonsense,” said Rabbi Roz Mandelberg of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk. “Every person has the right to hold their view on when life begins – but, when those in power impose their religious values upon others, it is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause that separates church from state. As a woman, a Jew, and a rabbi committed to the pursuit of justice for all God’s children, I dissent.”
“Former President and Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson believed that our country must guarantee religious freedom for all. Women, pregnant individuals, pro-choice religious organizations, the Jewish community – all of us must stand together to protect our rights,” said Senior Rabbi Amy Schwartzman of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church. “We do so as an expression of our understanding of our American values as well as from our deeply felt and legitimate religious and moral beliefs.”
“An overwhelming majority of American Jews opposed the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, in part because we understood that doing so would open the door to states adopting draconian abortion bans that impinge upon our religious freedoms. Even under its strictest, most traditional interpretation, Jewish law mandates the termination of a pregnancy in certain circumstances involving the life or health of the mother. While we respect other religions’ belief that life begins at conception, Judaism has no such dictate,” said Guila Franklin Siegel, Associate Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. “Compelling Jews to adhere to a law that elevates one religion over others is simply unacceptable and must not happen in Virginia.”