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TBE and UW Hillel Discuss Reproductive Rights

06/28/2023 11:02:25 AM

Jun28

By Beth Kaplan

On April 2, the Social Action Committee and UW–Madison Hillel hosted “Reclaiming Reproductive Rights: An Intergenerational Effort,” featuring an expert panel discussing the state of abortion rights in Wisconsin. 

Attended by more than 40 people, including many UW students, the panel included leaders who highlighted Jewish teachings on abortion, current legal challenges, efforts to help women access abortion care, and student perspectives, followed by spirited discussion during dinner. 

Hillel’s Rabbi Andrea Steinberger introduced the panel and praised the dialogue between TBE members and UW students. Panel members included Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, chair of the Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights and executive director of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice; Nicole Safar, executive director of Law Forward; Jessica Melnik, a UW student; Johanna Hatch, board member of Pregnancy Options Wisconsin: Education, Resources, & Support, Inc. (POWERS); and Rev. Terry Williams of Faith Choice Ohio, who joined the panel via a pre-recorded video.

Rabbi Margulis provided the Jewish foundation for the discussion. “While Judaism believes all life, including fetal life, is sacred, Judaism has always prioritized the actual life of the pregnant person over the potential life of the fetus when the two are in conflict,” she said. “The Reform movement has a long-standing position that the decision to continue or terminate a pregnancy should be between the pregnant person and their doctor, free of interference from the government.” 

Panel members highlighted the role that preserving democracy plays in regaining abortion rights, the work being done to help women access resources like travel, lodging, and funding for an abortion, and how students view the loss of the right to make private decisions about their bodies. 

Abortion rights will be an ongoing effort within TBE, and members are encouraged to join in this work. Please feel free to use and share this list of organizations that provide support to women seeking an abortion. 

July 16, 2024 10 Tammuz 5784