Don't Let the Light Go Out

December 12, 2011Rabbi Marla J. Feldman

Where else but at a WRJ Assembly would you hear Waco-born, Baptist-bred Cecile Richards talk about the importance of 'tikkun olam' and being 'verklempt' upon her first visit to Israel with Jewish women? Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards, reminded participants at the WRJ Assembly of how important our continued activism is in an age when conservative elected officials would undermine decades of progress in women's health and reproductive rights to pursue a right-wing political agenda. WRJ LogoRecent fights in Washington put funding for Planned Parenthood on the chopping block, with false claims that government funds could be used for abortion, which has prohibited for decades. In fact, most of what Planned Parenthood does is provide women’s health services, family planning, mammograms, pap smears and other screenings to American women. Fortunately, the Obama Administration held fast, foiling that plot to destroy Planned Parenthood. Yet the struggle continues with securing access to Plan B for young women and other reproductive health services. According to Richards, 1/5 of American women have reached out to Planned Parenthood at some point in their lifetime. That means many of us, our mothers and our daughters, our friends and our colleagues, have relied on Planned Parenthood to provide crucial reproductive health services. And that included me as a young woman. I support Planned Parenthood, as my parents did, because they were there for me when I needed them. We need to make sure they continue to provide reproductive services for women today – and tomorrow. Concluding her remarks, Richards reminded us about our upcoming Chanukah celebration and the inspiration she draws from the holiday’s message of fighting for what is right and overcoming difficult odds. Together we can recommit ourselves to the struggle for women’s rights. As she said: “Don’t let the light go out.”

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