As a Jewish woman, I firmly believe in the value of kavod ha bri’ot, affirming respect and dignity for all human beings. We all deserve the ability to make our own decisions about our health, our bodies and our future, including the decision to have an abortion.
Through my volunteer work with the National Council of Jewish Women Cleveland, I have learned that putting this value into action is so much easier than I thought. It doesn’t take special knowledge. It doesn’t take a time-consuming commitment. Often, it just means believing in an issue enough to show up.
Last spring, I was one of many Jews who felt compelled to show up at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to speak out against a slew of proposals that would have interfered in the personal decisions of many Ohioans by pushing safe abortion care out of reach.
Last weekend, I was again inspired to show up for women and families by attending All Access, a national concert in Cleveland – because Ohio legislators have passed some of the strictest anti-abortion legislation in the country. Featuring celebrity musicians such as Sia and comedians such as Leslie Jones, artists and attendees gathered to support abortion access for all.
It felt so powerful to be among a diverse crow, folks from a range of ages, religious backgrounds, racial and gender identities. Uniting in music and laughter, the event demonstrated our powerful movement of people who believe that abortion should be safely available to everyone when needed.
But this movement didn’t end when I left the Wolstein Center. Congress still has much work to do to ensure abortion access for all. In fact, one of the harshest remaining barriers to abortion care that impacts women across Ohio and in communities nationwide is an annually approved federal policy called the Hyde Amendment.
For 40 years, politicians in Congress have used the Hyde Amendment to deny coverage for abortion to those insured through Medicaid. This policy has been expanded to harm military service members and their dependents, federal employees, immigrants, Native Americans and others. Hyde pushes safe, affordable abortion out of reach of a woman just because she is poor or because of the insurance she holds, and it falls hardest on women of color, young people, and immigrant women. Hyde also chips away at the religious liberty of each woman to make her own decision about abortion, based on her own faith, beliefs and circumstances.
It’s time for our federal lawmakers to show up to support respect and dignity for every woman by ending this harmful policy. They can start by supporting the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act under consideration in Congress. The EACH Woman Act would lift the Hyde Amendment and similar bans. I am proud to speak out for this bill, the principles of which align with my Jewish values.
We each deserve the ability to follow our own faith and moral beliefs, especially when it comes to the most important decisions in life, such as whether to become a parent. I, as a Jew, have an obligation to show up when I can and contact my legislators. Showing up at the All Access event was one step, and continuing to speak out for abortion access is another. By calling on our Ohio elected officials to support the EACH Woman Act, we can each help make abortion access a reality for everyone.
Leslie Royce Resnik of Orange is NCJW /Cleveland vice president of communications.