Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

VIOLENCE AGAINST REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CLINICS:

Adopted at the 106th Annual Convention of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Jerusalem, Israel
March, 1995 / Adar II, 5755

Background

There has been an upturn in damage to reproductive health clinics and violence against those who work in the field which many believe constitutes a trend of organized attempts to incite such violence. Since 1977, there have been five women's clinic-related murders in addition to over sixteen hundred incidents of violence waged against individuals and almost ten thousand incidents of disruption of services at reproductive health clinics. More than thirty-three thousand protesters were arrested while blocking clinic entrances. In 1994 alone, four people were murdered, eight people were physically injured during life threatening assaults, three facilities were bombed, and five facilities were the subject of arson.

This trend of terror is frightening health providers and staff out of the field, effectively rendering the constitutionality of a woman's right to choose moot, as abortion services become more and more difficult to obtain. According to a 1988 study of the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 83% of counties in the United States lacked an abortion provider. These countries were home to 31% of all American women age 15 to 44. In 1995, the escalating violence leads reproductive rights advocates to believe that even more women do not have access to proper reproductive health services because every month more reproductive health facilities services must close their doors since fewer physicians are willing to take the risk involved. Furthermore, the controversy and risk factors weigh heavily on hospitals which are also reducing services and discontinuing instruction on abortions to their medical students.

Some of the increase in violence can be attributed to some pro-life leaders' choice of hateful and unjust rhetoric. Violent rhetoric breeds violent actions. Religious leaders must scrutinize their own rhetoric and condemn those whose rhetoric dehumanizes and demonizes abortion providers and pro-choice advocates.

In 1967, 1975, 1980, and 1993 the CCAR strongly stated and reaffirmed its support for a woman's right to choose an abortion. In 1984, the CCAR denounced the Hyde Amendment, which eliminates a low-income woman's right to be provided with an abortion she cannot afford to pay for one. We have addressed these issues through resolutions and actions in the past. We commit ourselves anew to act upon the challenge of these resolutions.

Yet, as religious leaders, we have a critical responsibility to do more.

THEREFORE, The Central Conference of American Rabbis:

1. Reiterates our support for a woman's right to choose reproductive services and demands the appropriate resources to protect providers, patients, and reproductive facilities from violence.

2. Asks all Reform rabbis to continue speaking out against violent protest and urge other religious leaders, regardless of their particular stance on reproductive rights, to call for an end to the violence. We must voice the message that harassment, terrorism, and murder are not religious behavior.

3. Urges CCAR members to call upon anti-choice religious leaders to examine their own rhetoric and if necessary, change their tone from one that incites violence to one that calls for rational and peaceful protest.