Choice under siege

It’s a sad state of affairs that we feel compelled to editorialize about the “March for Women’s Lives” that took place in Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 25.

While we commend those local Jews who flew across the country to participate, we wish they could have put what they spent on plane fare to better use.

We say this because we wish such a march didn’t have to take place at all. We wish a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy were simply a decision between her and her doctor. We wish the government had no right to interfere. But unfortunately, that’s not the case.

According to a story by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, polls show American Jews are more supportive of reproductive rights and Roe v. Wade than any other religious or ethnic group in the country.

While we know that all segments of the Jewish community are not in agreement on this issue, we note that even Jewish law says it is permissible to abort a fetus when a mother’s life is in danger. If abortion were outlawed, the result could be the needless deaths of many women.

Abortion is not a decision to be made lightly. However, countless women who would never have one themselves believe that others should still have that right.

There are so many reasons we support a woman’s right to choose. One of the most obvious is that many of us are old enough to remember what life was like before Roe v. Wade. At that time, those who had the resources went abroad to obtain an abortion. Others went to unlicensed practitioners, sought out in back alleys. Some induced their own abortions, with tragic results. And some gave birth to children they were ill-equipped to raise.

As the Chronicle reported on Monday, April 25, California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley shocked many women at a pre-march rally, telling of his own mother, Thelma, who had an illegal abortion in 1942. Bearing her shame in silence, she never told her own husband, only revealing the story to her son after her husband died. Now 84, she told him to share what happened to her at the march, that she suffered a perforated uterus and nearly died.

This is just one of many reasons. Kay Greenwald, the cantor of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, offered another. “There’s a tendency in our society sometimes to care more for our children before they’re born,” said Greenwald, who attended the march. “Our society is not very good at providing good child care for working mothers, and making sure that people can actually live on the salary of a minimum wage job.”

We couldn’t say it better ourselves.