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Hadassah President Calls on Women to Get Involved in Abortion Issue

July 20, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

In an unusually strong statement, Hadassah’s national president has called on the organization’s membership to fight any attempts to restrict women’s access to abortion or birth control.

In a speech at the 75th annual convention here, Carmela Kalmanson quoted from the recent Supreme Court decision in the abortion case of Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services.

“The Supreme Court has opened the door to a new threat to personal freedom,” Kalmanson told the 2,500 delegates in her keynote address Sunday. “The right of every woman to make choices in her life is based solely upon an individual’s moral and ethical values.

“The real questions, my friends, is who makes the choice: the government or the woman? At Hadassah, we stand with the woman.”

Kalmanson’s emotion-filled oratory was met by rousing cheers and sustained applause. For an organization that has thus far trod lightly on the American political scene, a strong directive issued Tuesday by the national board to the 385,000 members appeared to be a bold move designed to appeal to a younger constituency.

The directive, an “Action Alert,” urged the 385,000 members to appeal to local politicians, align with pro-choice organizations and oppose any attempt to limit or deny state funds for abortion.

Other issues dealt with during the four-day national convention in Atlanta that ended Wednesday included Soviet Jewry, Zionism, Israeli-Arab relations and Hadassah’s health care work in Israel carried out through the Hadassah Medical Organization, based in Jerusalem.

Treasurer Bess Rothbaum reported Sunday that $68 million was raised for 1988-89 programs, which included the Hadassah Medical Organization, the Jewish National Fund, Young Judaea and youth aliyah.

On Tuesday evening, Hadassah bestowed the Henrietta Szold Award honoring “guardians of our human rights” to Ambassador Max Kampelman, former head of the U. S. delegation to nuclear disarmament talks with the Soviet Union, and to Renee Epelbaum, founder of Argentina’s human rights group, the Mothers of the Plaza.

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