By Dana Fleitman, Program Coordinator
Jewish Women International takes great pride in the Jewish community’s commitment to social justice. In honor of Roe v. Wade’s 40th anniversary, we’d like you to meet another young Jewish female activist working to protect a woman’s right to choose.
“For as long as I can remember, I have always equated a woman’s ability to control her reproduction with her autonomy as a human being” says Michelle Farber, 23. Michelle is an activist with Seattle Clinic Defense, a small group that strives to make clinics a safe space for patients. “We go out when there’s anti-choice demonstrations to take back that space…when anti-choice people want to make that space political, we will take it back. This is a clinic, and it should be a safe space to receive care.”
Michelle is currently studying to be a nurse midwife and feels that “no one should be influencing what’s going on in my exam room besides me and a patient.” She stresses that “every woman has a different story, and no one should be involved in that choice besides her and her healthcare provider.”
Her Jewish background supports her activism. Michelle says, “A lot of my friends who come from different faith backgrounds have had to battle back those ideas that women should not have control over their bodies. I’m proud that Judaism has always had a handle on that.” She recalls that she “grew up in a religious environment where we were not only encouraged, but required, to ask questions and think for ourselves, and that set me on a path to challenge the system. I’ve always felt proud to come from a religious tradition that is pro-choice and stands with women.”
Michelle’s been involved in pro-choice activism for as long as she can remember. She became political in high school through her chapter of Amnesty International, which set her on a path towards women’s rights and, eventually, reproductive rights. At the University of Connecticut, she started a campus group called Students United for Reproductive Justice in addition to assisting the women’s health clinic on campus.
Michelle feels this issue in urgent and wants people to “remember the history of when women did not have access to abortions – they will do it anyway, and women will die…without these services, women’s lives are in danger.” She stresses that there should be as many abortions as necessary without outside judgment. “It’s not just if a woman was raped, or doesn’t have money, or some other circumstance where other people outside can say that was a ‘good abortion.’ If a woman is not ready to have a child or does not want to have a child with that partner, there should be as many abortions as needed until we have a better social system to take care of women.”
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!