To commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Essex County Section of National Council of Jewish Women recently hosted a sold out Lunch & Learn event at B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, featuring David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon, the authors of Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism. Additional participants included Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow at Media Matters, a doctor from Physicians for Reproductive Health, and Clinton, NJ Mayor Janice Kovach, who moderated the discussion.
The presentation began with Mayor Kovach explaining she was wearing a Kevlar vest to highlight the dangers experienced by staff at reproductive health care centers. Those dangers were detailed by Mr. Cohen and Ms. Connon as they explained the premise behind their book Living in the Crosshairs, including many stories from staff about verbal and written threats, being followed home, having gasoline poured on staff and clinic property, having personal information made public, and many more invasive and threatening experiences.
The authors went on to share the reasons so many abortion providers continue their work despite the physical and emotional harassment. A unifying reason included pre-Roe tragedies and stories of women seeing abortions in desperate situations. Infections, perforated uteruses, permanent sterility, and agonizing deaths were some results of abortions before they were legal. They emphasized that ensuring that women have safe, hygienic, and accessible reproductive choices is tantamount to those who continue to serve.
The forum continued with brief talks by Eric Boehlert, who discussed the lack of attention to anti-choice violence and terrorism in national media. A provider discussed the impact the ever more restrictive environment is having on health providers, patients, and our society in general. She travels from New Jersey to Texas every year to help provide safe, affordable reproductive services to women who can’t afford to travel vast distances.
As a pro-active organization, NCJW/Essex made sure to provide the gathering with a call to action, asking those in attendance to fill out a mailer to their US Representatives encouraging them to support accessible and safe reproductive choices for all women. Two current pieces of legislation include H.R. 2972 and S. 217 which offer federal protections to women regardless of income, insurance, or location. Read more at the Voices for Reproductive Choices site.
The NCJW-Essex Lunch & Learn series continues in May with special guest former Governor James McGreevey to discuss A Fresh Start: Reinvention After Incarceration.