Two female rabbis and several local Jewish groups were among the thousands of marchers at the downtown Atlanta Rally & March for Reproductive Justice, Oct. 2. Starting at Liberty Plaza and ending at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the diverse crowd joined with marchers in Alpharetta, Duluth, Macon, Savannah and elsewhere in the country to protest increasing restrictions to access to abortion in the country.
State legislations around the country – most notably in Texas and Mississippi, but also in Georgia – are passing laws that would ban most abortion procedures, despite the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which made most abortions legal.
In fact, the National Council for Jewish Women is launching its “73 Forward” initiative on Oct. 27 “to assure that safe, affordable access to abortion isn’t taken away,” said Stacey Hader Epstein, co-president of NCJW-Atlanta section, who attended the recent rally. “Part of the initiative is to be in touch with our legislators and tell them stories of women who made these choices. The whole purpose is to sound the alarm, especially for people who have become complacent. This was a wake-up call.”
Epstein said it was “wonderful to see the young women who realized that this right could be taken away from us.” After Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser of Congregation B’nai Israel in Fayetteville and Rabbi Lauren S. Cohn, who teaches at Temple Sinai, spoke, a young woman asked the diverse crowd how many had had abortions. “A lot raised their hands,” recalled Epstein. Then the speaker asked how many people knew someone who had had an abortion, and nearly everyone raised their hands.
“The most surprising thing about the rally, to me, was that there was only one counter-protester,” said Epstein.
She was particularly impressed with the creativity displayed in the signs that attendants held. “Bans Off Our Bodies,” “My Uterus, My Rules,” “If you cut off my reproductive rights, can I cut off yours,” and “73 Forward” signs that read “Abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a human right.”
Other local Jewish groups that joined the marchers included the Democratic Women’s Salon and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta.
The rallies took place across the country a day after the Biden administration asked a federal judge to block Texas’ abortion law, which has prohibited most procedures in that state since the beginning of September. Just days after the rallies, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin temporarily blocked the near-total ban on abortion in his state. His action prevents the state from enforcing the new law while litigation continues over its legality.
Epstein said she spoke for many women who “can’t believe we’re still having to deal with this” issue after nearly 50 years.
- Jan Jaben-Eilon
- National Council for Jewish Women
- National Council of Jewish Women – Atlanta
- Biden administration
- Joanie Shubin
- Melanie Nelkin
- Jewish groups
- Atlanta Rally & March for Reproductive Justice
- Liberty Plaza
- National Center for Civil and Human Rights
- State legislations
- ban abortion
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Roe v. Wade
- Stacey Hader Epstein
- 73 Forward
- Rabbi Ellen Nemhauser
- Congregation B'nai Israel
- Rabbi Lauren S. Cohn
- Temple Sinai
- Democratic Women’s Salon
- Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta
- U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman
- Laura Kurlander-Nagel
- Lucy Kurlande