The effort comes as the National Council of Jewish Women promote Repro Shabbat
By Jan Jaben-Eilon | Atlanta Jewish Times
In anticipation of the National Council of Jewish Women’s Repro Shabbat, Feb. 17-18, which promotes reproductive justice, dozens of women in the Atlanta section spent hours at the NCJW offices preparing post-abortion care packages to give to women after they have had the procedure.
According to Susie Greenberg, an NCJW board member and a board alumnus of Planned Parenthood Southeast, some 50 kits were prepared. Inside the packages were ibuprofen, menstrual pads, socks, mints, pregnancy tests and handwritten notes from the NCJW participants.
“Think of it as a comfort care kit to lift their spirits,” she said, calling what she assisted doing “a passion.”
The pro-abortion kits were then delivered to abortion providers Planned Parenthood and Feminist Women’s Health Center. Sherry Frank, co-president of the Atlanta section of NCJW, reported that when she told women to whom she handed the packages that they were courtesy of NCJW, “one woman started crying.” Frank called the NCJW’s effort “a small act of good Black-Jewish relations.”
In Georgia, abortions are allowed only up to six weeks of pregnancy. “It’s hard to have an abortion in this political situation,” said Greenberg, a mother of four. “We’re probably outsupplying the demand.”
The post-abortion kits were only part of the Mitzvah Marathon held that day by NCJW. More than 90 bags were compiled for homeless women, as well as 152 sandwiches and 30 refugee welcome kits.
The post-abortion comfort care kits are the newest abortion advocacy initiative of NCJW, said local co-president Stacey Hader Epstein. This year will be the second Repro Shabbat promoted by NCJW on a national level, as well as a local level where a number clergy have signed on in support.
The parasha for Feb. 17-18 is Parshat Mishpatim, chosen for the NCJW’s Repro Shabbat to highlight reproductive justice. The well-known “eye for an eye” clause comes from Exodus 21:22-25 in Mishpatim, which is Hebrew for “laws.” Several local clergies last year pointed out that Judaism’s understanding of – even support for – abortion is based on this Torah portion.
The goal of Repro Shabbat was to provide the Jewish framework to encourage people to protect the 1973 Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in some situations across the United States, until last June when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that constitutional right. Now each state is determining its own laws for or against abortion. NCJW has entitled its advocacy program, 73Forward Campaign, in response.
Last year, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled that the state’s six-week abortion ban, enacted in 2019, was void from the beginning because the Georgia Constitution prohibits the legislature from passing laws that violate federal constitutional precedent. At the time, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, allowing abortions nationwide, still stood and a federal district court blocked the Georgia law.
The State of Georgia requested a stay of that ruling, which was granted a day before Thanksgiving last year. It is likely that the Georgia General Assembly will vote again on an abortion ban. In 2019, the current bill, known as the “heartbeat” ban, was passed by only one vote.