Grounded In Strength, We Are A Force

This has been a difficult day following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. While this outcome doesn’t come as a surprise after months of warnings (and years of eroding process and precedent), I’m still reeling from the horror of this reality, as I know many are. Coming to work has, blessedly, been a relief and a bolster. The Jewfolk staff unanimously condemn today’s court action, for personal as well as philosophical reasons: Seven of our nine staff members are women. Five of us are under 35 and currently childfree, including myself. As Jews, we feel this decision transgresses our right to freedom of religion as well as our reproductive rights. I don’t love to talk about it, but as a survivor of a traumatic spinal injury as a teen, it would endanger my health and even my life to carry a child. I am grateful for the rabbinic rulings that protect me under Jewish law, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough under the law of the land after today.

Today is bleak, but the forthcoming response from our community demonstrates what I’ve long known to be true: Jews in Minnesota and across America are informed, engaged, passionate, and grounded in the strength of our shared identity. Our peers have been a long time organizing and building resources in order to be ready to meet such a moment as this. We deserve freedom from the oppressive mores of an evangelical Christian minority who have made it the work of their generation to cling to hegemonic power.

There’s more to say and so much work to do. For now: I’ve gathered some coverage from the past six months of repro justice work done here in Minnesota, and a snapshot of what’s happening in the wake of the end of Roe vs. Wade.

Together, we are a force to reckon with.

“Laws limiting or restricting access to abortion not only do not avail us of our religious rights but instead impede our ability to practice Judaism.” As Beth Gendler and Rabbi Avi Olitzky wrote in December, abortion rights are a matter of Jewish values. We can look both to biblical figures and our leaders of the present-day for inspiration.

Indeed, Jews have long played a role in abortion advocacy and today, inspired by Judaism, are geared up for a long fight in Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, and the rest of the country. Jewish leadership at Pro-Choice Minnesota, the Minnesota chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, the Our Justice abortion fund, and UnRestrict Minnesota, a coalition of Minnesotan of reproductive justice organizations including the aforementioned, all need support right now and moving forward. Minnesota, now an ‘island’ with abortion access currently enshrined in the state constitution (but several restrictive laws are on the books, and more are sure to be introduced), is expected to see up to a 371% increase in the number of people who come from out of state to get an abortion at one of eight abortion clinics.

Last month, our podcast hosts talked about movement work with Pro-Choice Minnesota Development Director, Naomi Silber; and about the intersectionality of abortion with NCJW Minnesota board member and former president, Laura Monn Ginsburg. Check these interviews out for timely insights and perspectives from a pair of experts, and look for more local coverage as the subject of reproductive freedom becomes even more urgent.

That’s what’s happened recently. Here’s what comes next:

Attend organized actions and build community in the long-term

Decision Day Actions (today, 6/24) online with NCJW (3 p.m.) | St. Paul (5 p.m.) | St. Cloud (5 p.m.)Downtown Minneapolis (5:30 p.m.) | U of M West Bank Minneapolis (6 p.m.)

Day After Decision Supreme Court legal analysis and chat (online, June 25)

Twin Cities Havdalah for losing abortion access (June 25, 10 p.m.) Minneapolis – Adath Jeshurun Congregation Backyard Tent | St. Paul – Mount Zion Temple

Resistance as Liberation: Judaism & Abortion Care (online, June 27)

Our Future: March for Abortion Access (Minnesota State Capitol, July 14)

National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is planning our immediate response to the Supreme Court of the United States decision. Use this form to stay in the loop and RSVP for any of the following events:

Decision day at 4:00 p.m. EDT: Jewish Vigil for Abortion Justice

2-3 days after decision: Jewish Community Briefing on Abortion Access

July 14 at 1:30 p.m. EDT: Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg will lead in-depth teaching on Jewish sources around abortion justice over Zoom.

In the fall: NCJW will announce a day of action for the Jewish community to mark together across the country.

UnRestrict Minnesota and its member organizations are doing important work in the courts, legislature, and public sphere to keep abortion legal and accessible in Minnesota, provide factual information to patients, do culturally-informed advocacy for reproductive rights, and to help people tell their stories and lift stigma against reproductive healthcare.

Fund abortion access (recurring donations make the work sustainable)

Just the Pill offers sexual and reproductive healthcare to patients in rural communities regardless of their ability to pay.

Donations to Our Justice fund abortion access and lodging in Minnesota.

The Red River Women’s Clinic of Fargo, North Dakota, is nearing 50% funding for a new location in Moorhead, Minn., to continue serving North Dakota and rural Minnesota.

Take care of your spirit…

…Whatever that means to you. I’m going to need to grieve this moment (and so much more). Taking and making space to process tumultuous emotion is essential in its own right and in the interest of moving into reparative action. It looks different for everyone. Coming together with loving community and funneling resources toward justice are absolutely part of the picture, but self-care can also be journaling, going to therapy, making art, leaning into religious practice, dancing or ecstatic movement, self-adornment, feeding the body, calling your rabbi or mom or sister, gardening or recreating outdoors, and — yes — unplugging and taking a day or more off. Shabbat shalom.