Washington, D.C., - Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, which focuses on whether religiously affiliated organizations can successfully claim that their religious expression rights would be violated if they fill out a government form. This form is used as an accommodation to allow religious organizations to avoid providing health insurance that covers contraception. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) strongly supports the right of all women to make their own reproductive decisions. In light of this value, JCPA joined our member agencies American Jewish Committee and Union for Reform Judaism, as well as the Central Conference of American Rabbis in an amicus brief outlining why the accommodation given to religiously affiliated organizations does not impose a substantial burden on their religious freedom. Though this brief represents the broad consensus view in the Jewish community, some of JCPA's member agencies, including the Orthodox Union, have not taken a position on the central issue in this case.
After the arguments today, JCPA released the following statement:
“We cannot simply accept that an organization’s freedom of religion can be extended, not just to deny access to reproductive health decision making for women, but to block an accommodation. The accommodation is embodied in the current rules in order to protect both religiously affiliated organizations and the rights of their employees to access reproductive care. We should all be concerned when religious freedom is being used as an instrument to curtail the rights of others,” said Susan W. Turnbull, JCPA Chair.
“JCPA fundamentally believes that reproductive decisions should be made by women in consultation with their families, health care professionals, and whomever they choose. A woman’s employer should not be able to prevent her from getting appropriate healthcare. Our Jewish faith has extensive teachings on family planning and access to contraception, and religions are not monolithic in their approach to these issues. If we allow these employers' religious beliefs to trump a woman’s right to access healthcare—and her own religious beliefs—what other rights do we endanger?” said JCPA Director of Legal Affairs and Policy Development Hanna Dershowitz.
JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 16 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.