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Seven Jewish Groups Join Forces to Mobilize for Abortion Rights

Seven Jewish organizations are joining women’s and civil rights groups in a mass effort to support the right to choose abortion.

The Mobilize for Women’s Lives coalition, whose activities will include a rally in Washington on Nov. 12, was launched at a news conference here Sept. 7.

According to organizers of the coalition of more than 30 groups, the nationwide effort will attempt to counter the effects of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Webster vs. Reproductive Services.

That decision, allowing states more leeway in restricting access to abortions, is seen by pro-choice groups as an erosion of what they call a woman’s consitutional right to choose an abortion and a green light for local legislatures to restrict abortion.

The coalition’s efforts will focus on fund raising, voter registration drives and letter writing, with an eye toward electing pro-choice candidates in the 1990 congressional elections.

Jewish and other religious groups are prevented by their status as tax-exempt organizations from endorsing individual candidates in those elections.

Still, they believe “it is critically important for the public to understand that there are religious traditions that oppose restrictions on a woman’s right to have an abortion,” according to Robert Lifton, president of the American Jewish Congress.

“All too often, the only religious voices heard are those who oppose freedom of choice,” Lifton said in a statement.

Not all Jewish organizations support abortion on demand. While Jewish law allows abortion in some cases, Orthodox groups, including Agudath Israel of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, still believe the government should set strict limits on its availability.

The Jewish groups so far taking part in the pro-choice coalition are the American Jewish Committee, AJCongress, B’nai B’rith Women, Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women, National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

The National Federation of Temple Sister-hoods announced last week a “crisis campaign” to monitor state legislatures across the country and garner support for freedom of choice.

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