Out of Many, One
Yesterday morning, Rabbi David Saperstein stood with other leaders from the Washington Interreligious Staff Community (WISC) at a press event launching the 2013 Faithful Budget. The Faithful Budget’s Preamble and Statement of Principles reflects our Reform Movement’s understanding that the budget is an affirmation of our national priorities, an inherently moral document. The Faithful Budget was launched by the religious community to lift up voices of faith on behalf of the nation’s most vulnerable and to encourage the Administration and Congress to maintain a robust commitment to domestic and international poverty assistance programs.
The principles enumerated in this budget are as follows: restoring economic opportunity, ensuring adequate resources for shared priorities, prioritizing true human security, meeting immediate need, accepting intergenerational responsibility, using the gifts of creation sustainably and responsibly, providing access to health care for all, and recognizing a robust role for government.
The tradition of WISC, stretching back many decades, is to raise a united faith voice on a multitude of areas in which we share common priorities. This consensus document (crafted by representatives of a range of faith organizations including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Islamic Society of North America, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society, among many others) reflects that tradition.
However, consensus sometimes has a price. While we firmly stand with our colleagues on the issues included in the Faithful Budget, we regret that lack of consensus in the faith community gave short shrift to women’s health issues, including reproductive health. A budget that reflects the needs of women is one that cares for and supports women physically, emotionally, and mentally, while also respecting each of their abilities to make moral decisions about their own health care. That also means full funding for: family planning services; pre- and post-natal maternal care and abortion services; counseling on and care for sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS; screening and counseling for victims of domestic violence; comprehensive sexuality education, which effectively reduces the transmission of STIs, reduces unintended pregnancies, and models healthy relationships; annual gynecological appointments; and preventative care and screenings for cancer.
The Commission on Social Action is proud to stand with our faith colleagues and fulfill our prophetic mandate by speaking up for a just federal budget. Today, we recommit ourselves not only to making this faithful budget a reality, but also to making sure that women’s health and women’s lives are not shortchanged in the process.
Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman is Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism.