The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) today welcomed a series of directives from the Trump Administration to protect religious freedom and the rights of unborn children able to feel pain. Late last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor, and the Office of Management and Budget all issued directives to protect the free exercise of religion, to protect the rights of those whose religious beliefs preclude support of contraceptives and abortifacient services, and to protect the lives of unborn children from twenty weeks post-fertilization.
The steps are a vast change from the Obama administration's policies under which Obama's Affordable Care Act insisted on healthcare policies that include contraceptive coverage, leading the Catholic convent, Little Sisters of the Poor, to lead a fight against it as an abrogation of freedom of religion.
The CJV deplored the efforts of left-wing Jewish groups to mischaracterize these steps, which Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, described as an "assault on women's rights."
"Why is it," asked Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the CJV, "that liberal groups, too often Jewish, speak of tolerance yet fail to acknowledge the sincere values, beliefs and practices of those with whom they disagree? Judaism values every life, including that of the unborn child. Employers who claim that abortion or birth control violate their religious or moral beliefs deserve our respect and support."
His colleague Rabbi Dov Fischer added: "The government should not be forcing those whose religious beliefs oppose dispensing contraceptives to violate their consciences. Nothing in these new directives precludes people from purchasing over-the-counter birth control products. It is long overdue that the First Amendment balance return to respecting the right of religious believers, free of government coercion to compromise their beliefs."
The CJV strongly encourages passage of H.R. 36, the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" submitted by Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona.
The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), the largest rabbinic public policy organization in America, articulates and advocates for public policy positions based upon traditional Jewish thought.
The Orthodox Union also praised the new directives.
Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament stated: “The Orthodox Union has long advocated for the most expansive protection of religious liberty for all Americans. The Trump Administration’s decision to expand the conscience exemptions in the Affordable Care Act is consistent with the long-standing American tradition of trying to avoid infringements upon religion as much as possible. The Obama Administration’s refusal to utilize other methods to ensure women's access to certain healthcare services ignored this sensible approach and stoked unnecessary controversy. The new guidance is a return to the proper balance of valuable concerns.”
Orthodox Union President Mark (Moshe) Bane stated: “The new regulations are good news for all Americans. Religious freedom is a fundamental right for all, so when it is threatened for some, it is threatened for all.”