The Blessings of Health and Choice vs. the Curse of Coercion

Stand Up Monday – Rally at Texas Capitol:
July 1, 2013
Clergy Opening Remarks:
“The Blessings of Health and Choice vs. the Curse of Coercion”
Rabbi Rick Brody

“Enough!” to the invasive curse of meddling lawmakers who seek to deprive women their rights.  “Yes!” to the blessings that come with the safe, free exercise of conscience. 

[Video courtesy of Roz Altmejd]

I am blessed to stand here today with courageous and resolute Texas women. I stand here as a rabbi, as a husband, and a father. As the son of Democrat and Republican parents who are both ardently pro-choice. Parents who adopted two newborn children—before a surprise pregnancy with me. Yes: my parents, my siblings, and I all know—intimately—that what’s unplanned can become a blessing; but only when choices are made freely, without the curse of coercion. There is no blessing in treating a woman’s body contrary to her wishes. And even the best-laid plans can intrude on blessing—when a woman’s health is at risk or when a fetus holds no promise of a healthy life. My tradition shares both a deep reverence for the blessing of potential life and also this adamant conviction: the blessing of a pregnant woman’s life takes precedence over the potential life of her fetus at all times—and up until the moment of birth, the fetus is part of her body.

But with clinics beyond her access, or if her doctor is denied privileges at hospitals asserting their religious views, or if certain fetal complications are not yet detectable, or when women find themselves cursed with despair in back alleys—then, the state has endangered women’s health and the state has cursed their dignity. By imposing one moral conclusion to such a profoundly complex set of choices, the state tramples my religious teachings and violates the most basic religious freedoms that are the hallmark of this great nation.

In my tradition, a pregnant woman is the best judge of her own body’s needs, even over the judgments of her doctor. And many extend the welfare of the mother to include her emotional health—in direct contrast to the current, repressive legislation. The curse of lifelong torment to a woman’s mind is no less a part of her body and no less real. Yet those with one narrow religious view in Texas seek to tell all women and their health-care providers and their religious leaders that they can make better choices for Texas women. For the sake of religious liberty, for the sake of the dignity of choice for all women, and for the sake of women’s safety and health, I stand today with Texas women and say “Enough!” to the invasive curse of meddling lawmakers who seek to deprive women their rights. And I say “Yes!” to the blessings that come with the safe, free exercise of conscience.

At the July 1 rally, immediately following this speech, Rabbi Rachel Kobrin delivered this stirring call to action.

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13 responses to “The Blessings of Health and Choice vs. the Curse of Coercion

  1. Reblogged this on The Well: bodymindheartspirit and commented:
    I heard an Austin rabbi speak at the Stand With Texas Women rally at the Texas capitol today. His words about the importance of women in Judaism made a deep impression on me.

  2. Thank you for this. I reblogged it. It’s good to know that a religion supports what is true for me.

  3. Hearing his words was one of the high points of an incredible rally. Thank you for sharing this beautiful expression of faith and reason.

  4. Hearing your words was one of the high points of an incredible rally. Thank you for sharing this beautiful expression of faith and reason.

  5. Beautiful speech, Rabbi. The high point of the rally for me.
    Peggy

  6. Thank you Rick! You’ve said this eloquently, with passion, reason, and great conviction. I’m going to archive this, then post it, and maybe plagerize it, with attribution of course, should I find an opportunity to do so. I’ve always argued that this was the Jewish Tradition’s stance, and I’m glad to have you clarify that for me. Thank you!

  7. From a Texas expat living in Oregon, thank you for your stand for your tradition, for religious freedom, for women’s autonomy and health.

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