Ronnie Katz Gerber
Communications Chair, Hadassah Los Angeles Metro Region

What’s choice got to do with it?

Photo credit: Hadassah
Photo Credit: Hadassah

If there is Choice, then there is a choice. If a choice is regulated by laws with severe punishment, then we have No Choice—which is different from having the right to life. I believe there is no human life unless a sentient human can breathe/live on its own. I know that’s a bit of a religious belief, but it is also quite modern, secular and scientific. Science is being called into many corners these days and so many of them seem to be one way and very dark. Let’s shed some light.

The Talmud, our Jewish gift of law, states that life isn’t life until birth and the proof that the being can breathe on its own. And the first trimester is often considered ‘water’ until the sperm is safely and productively planted in the egg. We don’t even name our babies officially in synagogue until they are eight days old. Old fashioned, maybe. But culture, practice, and tradition all go a long way in the Jewish lifestyle and continuous belief. ( Biomedical Ethics and Jewish Law.)

On a different level but to the same cause, Hadassah sees and advances the view I proport here. Their policy statement on women’s reproductive rights is clear as it is seen as a crucial component of women’s overall health. They strongly continue to fight for Roe v. Wade to be reinstated. I am a Hadassah member; I am a Jew. But I’d love to see a lawsuit brought on these tenets. This is my church. And then try to remember that church and state should be separate in these United States. So, I’m right both ways.

Yes, these things seem to color my response to many government issues, mostly falling on the humane and modern side. I stay very clear of the loaded word ‘progressive.’ I refuse to see women’s rights, family rights, human rights as political footballs. I lead with a more pragmatic approach.

I can also see where the military has wound up in this fight. According to statistics, there is about a forty percent higher incident of abortion throughout the military than in general civilian populations. Most of them because of biracial or Latino biases. The other issue in the military is that pregnancy stymies female promotion to higher ranks. There also seems to be a higher incident of known but unreported as well as reported rape. ( And then figure in that the military is tax-based, and these are federal employees on federal land, so the medical care must come from this pocket. Our government doesn’t like that.

And here’s a medical advancement we seem to fly in the face of. Why have amniocentesis if it’s not to abort the fetus/embryo? Are we to merely allow a being who may not be able to live on its own without extreme care for what will probably be a shortened life span? Not all parents are able to support that kind of care. Emotionally, mentally or financially. And the alternative is often a facility of some horrid sort. What a toll on the family if there even is one. Many times, we have underage, unmarried, underemployed women who are racially discriminated against. Do they really need this extra burden?!

This is a wonderful country that is being pushed back at least a half century if not more. Be careful about what you wish for—that’s what I’m saying. In a brave country, in a brave world, there are marginal ideas belonging to people who hope to gather power by conjoining their marginal ideologies. And when they have, the result can only be disaster. Only some states have graced women with the ability to have an abortion if there is an imminent danger to her life or the unborn child’s, should she carry to term. When I grow up, I figure I don’t need a Father-All-Mighty to keep my morals in line. I figure my folks did that as I was maturing. I do expect yours did as well.

Will we have orphanages again? As I recall, that didn’t work out too well. Will we have butcher abortions, infections, imprisonments? What about childcare? What about universal health care for all these new citizens? Once they are born to the already unhappy family or single mother or low-income rape or incest victim, what happens to their care? Their lives? And the lives of those who bore them? Is this why we don’t let many refugees into the USA? By making room for the unborn/unwanted?!?

Come on, America, vote with reason and find a way to have more than what amounts to a handful of underfunded and geographically unsuitable sanctuary states. If we can’t overturn this lack of supreme considerations, then let’s tax ourselves into a new place so we can afford the aftereffects. That’s the new CHOICE at work at least.

When I visit, and I am lucky enough to spend months at a time, France and Spain, I certainly enjoy myself. I also love coming home to my own American culture and the safety net which Judaism is afforded in this home/host country of mine. But let me tell you, there’s something to be said about how those two countries – Catholic countries at that – do things.

Taxes are inclusive in every, EVERY, purchase. Sixteen to twenty-two percent depending on the type of purchase. What do you get? Free health care better than our Kaiser — not to damn Kaiser Permanente — but to create a bar. The very wealthy can of course seek more elitist care. Concierge and better. Every citizen has free nursery-through-high school education. Standardized. If you are from the east coast and of a certain age, think Regents Exams for college entry to certain higher learning institutions.

And all this care comes with free childcare, medicine, some baby food allotments, and laundry! And once you are college eligible, if you become a doctor, dentist, attorney, law enforcement person or a tour guide who is super educated and informed and carves out an area of expertise – that’s free too. All expenses paid for the education. Room and board not included.

Is that Communism? NO! Is it Socialism? NO! It is Nationalism. And gender equality. Make men have vasectomies if they don’t intend to support a child or its mother. Let’s regulate their reproductive organs. That just might be another constructive national advance in the USA. Abortions are not legal in these European countries, but the morning after pill and the fetal/abortion injection is readily available. And they are affordable. And although late term abortions are not done lightly, there is a system for that.

Back in the dark ages when TVs were tiny and Elvis was a bisected shonda with appeal, the girls I knew were whisked away to Puerto Rico, Mexico City and other places for ‘vacations.’ You know the saying: “Rich or poor, it’s good to have money.” So, I imagine that’s still the case. Senators’ wives and daughters, government officials, will not be impacted by this—Sarah Palin’s daughter notwithstanding.

Regular folks might seek some sort of help from an underground railroad to safe abortions. And religious assistance leagues. Oh yes – and the nunneries. And a huge recession with food deserts and supply lines exacerbating it all. Oh – and the outrageous inflation we’re bound to experience for another two years or so. Unemployment? What unemployment? Universal care? Pah-lease! The Supreme Court has taken away Choice by not allowing a choice. You don’t want an abortion? Whatever the reason. Don’t have it. If I want to get a Covid vaccine-it’s my choice. Not the government’s choice. Right? Now that’s another story….

What am I going to do? Tell all my Hadassah Sisters and all the females I can reach to keep supporting Planned Parenthood and sex ed in public schools. Do more. Make reason a choice. This is a death knell for self-worth, female sanity, equal pay, equal employment, equal medical care. Educations will be interrupted if not completely aborted. Now there’s the right use of the word.

Hadassah Nassau County Region marching for reproductive rights. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.

Let’s see how we can Choose to change their choice.

About the Author
Ronnie Katz Gerber is currently Communications Chair for the Hadassah Metro Los Angeles Region. A retired English and drama teacher for one of the largest school districts in California, she has written, directed and produced a handful of curriculum-based plays for her students and received a Los Angeles Awards nomination for her educational outreach through the arts. She has now turned her attention to columns, articles and short stories. Ms. Gerber is active in the community doing volunteer work and also spends her time pursuing her avid interest in travel. She has visited most of Europe, Russia and Africa, China and a bit of South America as well. Most springs, she hosts foreign exchange students for a month while they take an American culture and language crash course at a local university. As a result, she has spent time with them and their families abroad. Her family, especially her grand girls are the best activity of any day.
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