Reproductive Freedom, Access, Rights, & Justice

Abortion access is a Jewish value, plain and simple.

NCJW is committed to advancing the goals of reproductive justice so that every person can make their own moral and faith-informed decisions about their body, health, and family. We are proud of our historical efforts on this issue (see below) and the current work of our Reproductive Rights committee. We encourage to be engaged in the reproductive health and rights movement – if you’d like more information and/or to join the committee please contact
We also encourage you to visit NCJW’s Jews for Abortion Access campaign at and click on these links to learn more about medication abortion and language best practice cards: Medication abortion and Jewish values Infographic NCJW and Language Best Practices Rack Card Print (1)

Judaism and Abortion:

Does Jewish law state that life begins at conception? NO. Life does not begin at conception under Jewish law. The fetus is not viewed as separate from the parent’s body until the onset of labor and childbirth.

According to Jewish law, is abortion health care? YES. Various Jewish sources explicitly state that abortion is not only permitted but is required should the pregnancy endanger the life or health of the pregnant individual.

Judaism values life and affirms that protecting existing life is paramount at all stages of pregnancy. The interests of the pregnant individual always come before those of the fetus.

Abortion access is a Jewish value:

Building on our legacy of raising our Jewish voices for progress, NCJW works for reproductive access, reproductive freedom, full bodily autonomy, and religious liberty. Abortion is a safe, essential component of health care and a basic human right

NCJW’s support for abortion rights is directly linked to and driven by our religious texts and Jewish values: b’tzelem Elohim — we are all created in God’s image, kavod ha bri’ot — respect and dignity for all, and tzedek tirdof — the pursuit of justice.

NCJW, Louisville Section’s historical efforts:
  • 1870: Contraception is legal until the Comstock Act outlaws birth control education
  • 1895: NCJW, Louisville Section founded
  • 1900’s: Women seek contraception and abortions illegally because there are no sanctioned options
  • 1916: Margaret Sanger opens birth control clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y.
    • Clinic is closed after 9 days, Sanger arrested, then found guilty
  • 1923: Sanger and allies open 2nd clinic, the Clinical Research Bureau, without legal controversy
  • 1925: Sections of NCJW begin establishing birth control clinics, Mothers Health Bureaus, to provide comprehensive reproductive healthcare
  • 1932: Kentucky Birth Control League founded by Jean Brandeis Tachau as 15th clinic in US, which is supported by NCJW Louisville Section
    • Due to segregation laws, the Norton’s Health Facility can serve only whites, and advocates arrange for Dr. Hammons to offer services to black women in the community
  • 1942: The American Birth Control League and Birth Control Research Bureau merge to establish Planned Parenthood, and centers are rapidly opened
    • NCJW sections help expand the number of centers and advocate for full access to reproductive healthcare
  • 1960: Birth Control pill becomes available in the US, but access to abortion care remains illegal
  • 1960’s: NCJW, Louisville Section advocates for a woman’s right to privacy and to make her own medically informed decisions about pregnancy and abortion
  • 1970’s: NCJW, Louisville Section members Sonia and Ronald Levine help establish Louisville Family Planning Council and KY Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights
  • 1973: Roe v Wade decision by US Supreme Court legalizes some abortion care
  • 1975: Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights established by NCJW and other national partners
  • 1987: NCJW helped to start Kentucky Women Advocates; a statewide coalition committed to achieving quality for women
  • 1988: NCJW delegation encouraged Senators and Congressmen to support the Family and Medical Leave Act, Welfare Reform, and the Act for Better Child Care
  • 1989: Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Project founded by Suzy Post, NCJW member & Executive Director of ACLU in Louisville, and partners Sister Song, National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, and Latina Institute for Reproductive Rights
    • NCJW Louisville Section helps plan large rally at State Capitol to advocate for abortion rights
  • 1989: NCJW enacted its “NCJW Choice Campaign” to oppose weakening the rights of abortion
  • 1990’s: NCJW, Louisville Section Legislative Agenda prioritizes right to abortion
  • 1991: NCJW protested the AT&T Foundation’s discontinued funding of Planned Parenthood’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
  • 1996: NCJW, Louisville Section joins Amicus Brief in Doe vs Childers KY to seek Medicaid funding for Abortion Services
  • 2003: Participated in NCJW, Inc.’s “Benchmark Campaign to Save Roe” to advocate against 8 legislative threats to freedom of choice at the federal level
  • 2003: Participated in “One Voice for Choice”, a coalition of pro-choice groups in Louisville, and offered informational workshops on reproductive rights
  • 2005-mid-2000’s: Participated in fully supported safe access to local reproductive rights centers (EMV), Worked with community partners, such as Planned Parenthood, in Louisville and Fankfort to fight restrictions on abortion rights in the state capitol, Provided community educational sessions on the Plan B medication
  • 2014: NCJW Participated in local women’s caucuses like the “Speak Up & Speak Out” summit in 2014, partnering with Planned Parenthood and the ACLU