NEW YORK (Aug. 5)
The New York Board of Rabbis, representing 700 Reform Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, called yesterday on New York City’s Department of Hospitals to reverse its policy on birth control information and to permit patients in city hospitals to decide for themselves whether receipt of birth control information violates their religious principles.
The rabbis’ statement came in the midst of a controversy over a ban on birth control information in municipal hospitals which was imposed by Commissioner of Hospitals Morris A. Jacobs. His action has the support of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York but is opposed by many Protestant church groups.
In a letter to Mayor Robert F. Wagner signed by president Rabbi A. Alan Steinbach, the rabbinical board declared: “We as rabbis respect and defend the fundamental right of all religious groups, large or small, to formulate their particular views for their respective adherents. However, we strongly deplore and protest against the notion that patients in tax-supported hospitals who do not wish to adhere to the views of religious groups, to whom the Department of Hospitals seems to be deferring, should nevertheless be compelled by the department to do so even if, as a result, their very lives may be endangered. This most certainly is a violation of the cherished American concept of freedom of religion.”