American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, decries the United States Supreme Court’s Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade, the nation’s landmark abortion rights law
AJWS Executive Vice President Venus Devnani McClelland released the following statement:
Though we had anticipated – with incredulity and disbelief – that the U.S. Supreme Court was poised to eviscerate Roe v. Wade, the news is nonetheless devastating now that the day has come. Despite polls showing that more than two-thirds of Americans believe that this landmark ruling should be upheld, our highest court has decided to deny people the right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy.
Today’s decision violates the fundamental right to have agency over our own bodies – and it sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world. In a decades-long global shift toward increasing people’s rights to reproductive freedom, this type of reversal sets a horrifying example – especially in countries living under authoritarianism.
The U.S. has traditionally served as a positive force in global health: In fiscal year 2021 alone, U.S. foreign family planning and reproductive health assistance helped 27.2 million people gain access to contraceptive services and prevented 12 million unintended pregnancies. U.S. investments in international family planning also prevented 19,000 maternal deaths. By pulling back access to abortion and criminalizing it domestically, the U.S. not only joins the ranks of those hostile to human rights and gender equity but also endangers the global community health systems that rely on its support.
Today’s decision emboldens egregious anti-abortion policies like the Helms Amendment and the Global Gag Rule, both of which severely curtail reproductive health around the world. The Helms Amendment, which prohibits U.S. funds from being used for all abortion care, and the Global Gag Rule, which prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from even counseling patients on abortion as an option, have always been subject to the political party in power. With Roe no longer law, we can expect even tighter restrictions on U.S. global health assistance, which would create enormous obstacles to health care access in many communities, ultimately leading to avoidable harm and deaths, especially in marginalized communities.
As a human rights organization rooted in Jewish values and inspired by Jewish teachings that view the life and rights of the pregnant person as paramount, we stand in solidarity with reproductive justice advocates in the U.S. and our grantee partners around the world in the fight for reproductive freedom. And we will remain unwavering in our commitment to support those advocating for gender equality and the right of women, trans men, intersex people and anyone with a uterus to make their own decisions about their bodies and their futures.
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