Jewish Leaders Among Religious Leaders Seeking Meeting with Reagan on the Abortion Issue

Five Jewish leaders are among the 17 national leaders of Protestant and Jewish organizations who, angered by what they called President Reagan’s refusal to meet with them on the abortion issue, have re-submitted their request for an audience, calling abortion “perhaps the most threatening issue to unity” in the United States.

They are Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the (Reform) Union of American Hebrew Congregations; Lillian Maltzer, president of the (Reform) National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods; Chaie Herzig, co-president of the women’s division of the American Jewish Congress; Goldie Kweller, president of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism; and Edna Wolfe, executive director of B’nai B’rith Women.

On Jan. 22, the eighth anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing freedom of choice, the President held a widely publicized meeting with antiabortion representatives. The heads of the mainline religious groups, all of whom support the right of choice, were denied an appointment.

Patricia Gavett, executive director of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, criticized the President for encouraging the polarization of Americans by failing to hear all sides of the question. The pro-choice religious groups believe that a “human life” amendment, which would define personhood and prohibit individuals from exercising their own religious beliefs in the matter, would be a serious infringement on the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty.

Among those who are requesting the meeting are William Thompson, Stated Clerk of the United Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Kenneth Teegarden, President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Reagan holds membership in both these dominations.

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