By Dana Fleitman, Program Coordinator
JWI is proud that Jewish women have always been at the forefront of the pro-choice movement. Over the next few days, we are thrilled to introduce you to five inspiring young Jewish women who are carrying on this legacy of pro-choice activism today. Rachel, Laiah, Michelle, Esther and Vanessa have different careers and different perspectives, but they are all inspired by their Jewish background and are deeply committed to abortion access for all women. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Rachel.
Rachel Lachenauer, 23, is an Assistant Case Manager at the National Abortion Federation, where she primarily supports the organization’s hotline and counsels low-income patients, assisting them with navigating financial, logistical and emotional challenges.
Rachel explains that “The language has been coopted so that pro-choice people supposedly can’t have a spiritual, moral or religious connection to abortion access. But, to me, people having access to themselves, control over their bodies and being able to fully participate in their lives is spiritual. Everything that’s happening to limit women’s access to procedures is infringing on my moral, religious and spiritual beliefs.”
Rachel grew up in a Reform Jewish family in New York and says that abortion access was always a value that she and her family held. “It was seen as moral and right; there was a lot of flexibility in my household for freedom of expression, for people to be trusted and included. We always realized the inequalities and how marginalized so many groups are.” When she came to D.C. for the March for Women’s Lives at the age of fourteen, she realized she was in the right place. “As a young teenager to be in that environment with all these activists was very empowering,” recalls Rachel.
She continued to be involved through campus activism and pro-choice issues at American University and by volunteering at the DC Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force, where she helped patients feel safe coming to clinics.
Rachel truly values the opportunity to speak to hundreds of patients and is in awe of the strength that they demonstrate. “The more you talk to patients and hear about them and their strength as they navigate situations you would not know how to deal with…It’s intensely emotional and spiritual….They are incredible, and they have changed my life.”
Rachel believes that abortion access is about trust. “To not give people the freedom or opportunity to make decisions about their lives and their bodies is a way of saying, ‘we don’t trust you,’ and this issue is at the core of who we are as individuals.” She finds that her work around abortion has helped her see “the beauty in the diversity of experiences.”
Rachel notes that “Jewish women have been important to this movement and most social justice movements… this makes me proud to be a part of Jewish culture and Jewish life.”
Since our early days as B’nai B’rith Women, Jewish Women International (JWI) has fought to give women control over their bodies and over their lives – but forty years after Roe, our reproductive rights are far from guaranteed. Sign the pledge and commit to protecting choice!