Removing right to abortion would violate ‘essence of being human,’ rabbi says
MADISON, WI, August 15, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A rabbi in Wisconsin believes that removing the right to abortion would violate “the essence of being human.”
“Women are moral decision makers,” said Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, a leader with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s (RCRC) Wisconsin branch. “They have a conscience, guided by their moral values and the moral teachings that they follow.”
“When we deprive people of the ability to make those decisions themselves, we deprive them of being fully human,” she said.
She said her religion motivated her support of abortion. “You can be pro-choice because of your faith,” she told The Capital Times.
Rabbi Margulis is heading up efforts to support the HHS mandate, as she led similar efforts to support Wisconsin’s state requirement that all health care plans – including that of the Catholic archdiocese – provide contraception coverage.
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Two years ago, she excoriated Bishop Robert Molino of the Diocese of Madison for saying the diocese would comply with Wisconsin’s state mandate and offer the insurance coverage – but would fire any employee who used it in defiance of the Church’s teachings. The diocese said that willingly engaging in contraception would violate the Catholic faith, diminishing employees’ ability to represent the diocese.
The mandate was “essential to the inherent dignity and right of conscience of women,” wrote Rabbi Margulis in the Wisconsin State Journal. “Despite Bishop Robert Morlino’s opinion, no employer, regardless of religious affiliation, should have the right to put his or her own beliefs ahead of those of employees, or to make health care decisions for employees.”
She and the 600 members of Wisconsin’s RCRC affiliate are currently making fans that look like birth control packs and posting their pictures on the group’s Facebook page in order to “put a face to religious choice and reproductive justice.”
Her defense of abortion is part of her “progressive” belief structure. Last February, she likened Governor Scott Walker’s attempts to eliminate some benefits enjoyed by public sector unions to Nazi assault on trade unionists.
To date, no one at RCRC has distanced themselves from her controversial stattements.
RCRC was founded in 1993 as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR). Its member organizations include the Anti-Defamation League, the non-Orthodox branches of Judaism, the YWCA, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ (UCC), and the Unitarian-Universalists, among others.
Members of the Wisconsin branch include the Madison Jewish Federation, the Milwaukee Jewish Community Relations Council, and Law Students for Reproductive Justice – the group Sandra Fluke led at Georgetown.
Margulis has a long history of pro-abortion activism. She taught RCRC’s All Options Clergy Counseling program, which teaches pro-choice clergy how to counsel women considering abortion, and Pastoral Counseling for Reproductive Losses.
During the four years she was rabbi at the Hillel chapter at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, she was coordinator of the Shenandoah Friends of Planned Parenthood.
Margulis, who is also president of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, sits on the Women and Minorities Task Force of the Reform Movement’s Commission on Social Action and is Immediate Past Chair of the Women’s Rabbinic Network Social Justice Committee. She is active in a number of “social justice” and “peace and freedom” initiatives.
She earned her Masters Degree in Judaic Studies from New York University, and was ordained at Hebrew Union College (HUC) 20 years ago.
Her husband, Jonathan Biatch, is also a rabbi. They have two children.