Yesterday I went to the Washington State Capitol for the third time this session to testify. This time it was in front of a Senate committee considering the Reproductive Parity Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would require health plans to cover all aspects of maternal care, including voluntary termination of pregnancy. My testimony was brief, the time allotted was short, and I testified on a panel which included the CEO of Planned Parenthood Northwest. The hearing made the New York Times. Here’s what I added, providing a religious perspective in support of choice. The testimony was prepared with Rev. Vincent Lachina, the chaplain of Planned Parenthood.
Senators, my name Rabbi Seth Goldstein and I serve Temple Beth Hatfiloh and the Jewish community here in Olympia. I come this morning to speak in support of EHB 1044.
My faith tradition teaches the necessity of compassion and care for all humanity. As much as possible, we all desire a society that is both fair and even-handed in its treatment of all people. This bill will make sure that all women are treated fairly in their personal reproductive health decisions. To have a child, to place a child for adoption or to terminate a pregnancy is an important life decision that a woman makes with the help of those with her best interests in mind: her family and her physician and whomever else she consults, including sometimes faith leaders and clergy like myself, who are asked to offer comforting and compassionate advice. But in the end, whatever any woman decides should be wholly her own, and it should not be regulated by an insurance company or government officials.
As for religious freedom, I believe the exemption clause is quite solid and does protect one’s freedom of religion. I would add that religious freedom includes both freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religion. We cannot permit one religious group or their leaders to obstruct or coerce the exercise of mine or any other person’s religious conscience.
And as we are engaged in this country in a conversation about how to extend health care coverage to its citizens, it does raise moral concerns when we consider restricting it.
Thank you for your time, and I ask you for your support of this bill.