Yesterday, the Stupak-Pitts amendment was put into action, which allows states to choose to stop including abortion coverage in insurance plans. The bill requires women to purchase separate accounts that would only pay for abortions. If you look at the front page of The New York Times this morning, you will see the headline “Catholic Health Group Backs Senate Abortion Compromise.” Contradictions within the Catholic community are often explored in the mainstream media simply because they are shocking portrayals of a dominant religion. Catholicism is often thought of as cohesive and this split over Stupak shatters the stereotype of Catholics as people who do not use birth control and do not get abortions.
But I am not writing this post about Catholicism. Where faith-based abortion debates are concerned, the media lacks coverage on Jewish opinions and values. Jewish women are particularly divided amongst themselves because the ultra-Orthodox do not use any form of birth control and – though abortion is not strictly prohibited – consider it a sin amongst themselves. The Jewish liberals of New York make up a large part of the local pro-choice movement and those Conservative, Reform, and post/inter-denominational Jews elsewhere…well…you just don’t hear about them too often.
This Stupak-Pitts amendment is an egregious assault on the rights of women and an enormous step backward for those who believe in the separation of religion and state. It enshrines one religious view of abortion into law and enlists the federal government to enforce it. It jettisoned a compromise already worked out that would have maintained the status quo in regard to government funding for abortion care. The Stupak-Pitts amendment would apply a new far-reaching ban — barring women from even using their own funds to purchase comprehensive coverage that includes abortion services through the new insurance exchange. In doing so, this amendment ignores the reality that one in three women will in fact have an abortion by the time she reaches 45 years of age.
Sometimes I forget that Judaism is a minority religion in the United States. Women are a minority in the government, making Jewish women a double minority that rarely gets a voice in faith-based politics (which really should not exist in this country anyways – HELLO separation of church and state?!). This bill, which was crafted by men, detrimentally affects women. It is up to all the organizations out there with even the slightest pro-choice inkling like the NCJW to oppose this healthcare “reform.”
Not to mention that this bill makes absolutely no sense because, as Ratzan said, “This provision is alarmingly out of touch with the reality that women do not anticipate unintended or untenable pregnancies.” Hear that, Senate? No one PLANS an UNPLANNED pregnancy!