Women’s Reproductive Health

(2014)

This resolution was prepared in consultation with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (of which Women’s League is a member).

BACKGROUND

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurance policies to cover, without co-pays or deductibles, a full range of physician-prescribed FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling for women with reproductive capacity. There have been ongoing legislative and legal challenges to women’s reproductive health care access and choices in the United States. On March 25, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court heard Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v Sibelius, which deal with whether secular, for-profit corporations whose owners oppose birth control need to abide by the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. In these cases there have been attempts to redefine certain well-accepted contraceptive medications and devices as abortifacients.

The Women’s League for Conservative Judaism 2012 resolution explained the halachah regarding abortion and made recommendations based on these explanations. Those recommendations continue to be important since states and the U.S. Congress have continued to try to limit access to abortions. In addition, the ACA allows states to enact or repeal laws restricting coverage of abortion in marketplace plans. As a result, 26 states and the District of Columbia permit such coverage while 24 states have banned marketplace plans’ coverage of abortion. Further, the ACA does not explicitly require that health plans are transparent and individuals in many cases cannot ascertain whether a particular plan would cover abortions.

WHEREAS, there are a variety of reasons why the ACA’s requirement that most private health plans cover contraceptive counseling, services and supplies without out-of-pocket costs for women is both necessary and appropriate. The Guttmacher Institute has a thorough analysis of this. Most importantly, they discuss how contraception works and show how it is distinct from abortion.

WHEREAS, many women cannot afford to pay for the contraceptives either on a monthly basis or when there is a large upfront cost as is the case with IUD’s nor can they afford ongoing reproductive health care;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Women’s League for Conservative Judaism calls on its Sisterhoods to:

  • Encourage increased discussion about the harmful impact of difficult life circumstances and inequities in the choices that women (and men) in all walks of life may face as well as disparities across different geographic, socioeconomic and other populations regarding access to quality fertility/infertility, family planning, and abortion services;
  • Oppose any legislative efforts to deny a woman’s right to meaningfully access the full range of reproductive health services, and fully exercise her constitutionally protected reproductive rights;
  • Oppose legislation that seeks to practice medicine, such as defining when and what specific medical or surgical procedures are appropriate and lawful when applied to a woman and her ability to access reproductive health services;
  • Oppose any effort that would restrict funding of an institution or program which provides health services including education, birth control or abortion.

Further, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism resolves to join in amicus briefs in litigation involving the ACA contraceptive coverage mandate in order to place before courts the WLCJ positions on the issues involved.