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NEWS: Society for Humanistic Judaism
Opposes Attempts to Limit Access to Reproductive Health Care

Farmington Hills, MI, February 14, 2012 The Society for Humanistic Judaism condemns the frequent attempts in this country to limit access to reproductive health care – including contraception, sterilization, and abortion – in the guise of religious liberty. So-called “conscience clauses” – clauses inserted into public policy that allow a religious entity to be exempt from having to abide by certain legal health care treatments if they disagree with the choices on a religious basis (i.e., morning after pill, contraception, sterilization, abortion) – violate the rights of individuals to make their own religious and ethical choices by permitting institutions to impose their religious beliefs on the healthcare options available to individuals and employees who may not share those religions views.

The Society for Humanistic Judaism has issued a statement opposing such conscience clauses that reads in part:

  • All religious-affiliated institutions should have to abide by generally applicable healthcare regulatory laws about providing reproductive healthcare to individuals …
  • Accordingly, we, the Society for Humanistic Judaism, support an inclusive system that facilitates healthcare opportunities for individuals of all religious or moral beliefs. Thus, we oppose “conscience clauses” that allow religious-affiliated institutions as a whole, as opposed to individual healthcare providers, to be exempt from generally applicable requirements mandating reproductive healthcare services to individuals or employees.

As Humanistic Jews, we recognize that all people have the fundamental right to determine the course of their own lives. Reproductive freedom is only one of the many components of this personal freedom. “Thoughtful reproductive choice is both a moral responsibility and a legal right,” said Society for Humanistic Judaism executive director Bonnie Cousens. “We cannot allow any religious group or individual to use their views or beliefs as justification for curtailing a woman’s access to necessary and legal health care. We ask our leaders to recognize the danger inherent in bowing to particular religious beliefs as the basis for legislation or public policies regarding reproductive health care.”

The Society for Humanistic Judaism is the national umbrella organization for Humanistic congregations in North America. Humanistic congregations embrace a human-centered philosophy that celebrates Jewish culture. Humanistic Jews value their Jewish identity and the aspects of Jewish culture that offer a genuine expression of their contemporary way of life. Humanistic Judaism embraces the belief in the human capacity to create a better world rather than in reliance on a supernatural power or an omniscient deity

There are currently more than 30 congregations in the United States and Canada affiliated with this growing movement. Forty-nine percent of the United States 5.5 million Jews say that their outlook is secular and forty-eight percent do not belong to a synagogue or other Jewish organization according to the American Jewish Identification Survey undertaken by professional statisticians under the auspices of the Center for Jewish Studies at the City University of New York. The Society helps to organize local congregations and havurot, creates and disseminates celebrational and educational materials, provides national programs, including programs for teens and young adults, and serves the needs of individual members who do not live near an existing Humanistic congregation.

For more information, contact the Society for Humanistic Judaism.

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