Reform Movement Bestows Highest Honor Upon Kate Michelman

Head of Naral Pro-Choice America

NOVEMBER 6, 2003 - Kate Michelman, the outgoing president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation's premier reproductive-rights organization, received the Reform Jewish Movement's highest honor today during the UAHC's Biennial Convention in Minneapolis for her fight for the rights of women.
Michelman received the Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award one day after President Bush signed into law a measure to ban a form of late-term abortion. "That was yesterday," said Rabbi Daniel Freelander, vice president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and Ellen Rosenberg, executive director of the Women of Reform Judaism, who present Michelman with the award. "Today the battle begins again."

Referring to yesterday's events, Michaelman said Bush is the first president in history to sign a law criminalizing a medical procedure. "We need to pray with our feet," she said, urging the 4,000 Reform Jews gathered for the Biennial convention to be in Washington next April for a historic march for women's right to choose.

The Eisendrath Award is named for the former executive director and president of the UAHC, who served the organization from 1943 until his death in 1973. Past recipients of the Eisendrath Award include Shimon Peres, James and Sarah Brady; Anwar Sadat, Marion Wright Edelman, and the New York City rescue personnel who worked tirelessly to save lives in the aftermath of 9/11.

During the eighteen years she has served as president of NARAL, Michelman has vigorously defended the right to choose, working to define this right as a fundamental American value. She has pursued a vision of society that respects women's lives, health, and freedom, while broadening the concept of "choice" to include legal abortion, prevention of unwanted pregnancy, and the bearing of healthy children. A seasoned lobbyist and skilled political strategist, she was named one of Washington DC's most powerful women by Washingtonian magazine, and one of the to grassroots/nonprofit lobbyists by The Hill.

The UAHC has long been supportive of women's reproductive rights, stating in a resolution passed in 1975 that "in any decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, the individual family or woman must weigh the tradition as she struggles to formulate her own religious and moral criteria to reach her own personal decision…We oppose all constitutional amendments that would abridge or circumscribe this right." The Central Conference of American Rabbis and Women of Reform Judaism have also been staunch backers of reproductive rights, passing numerous resolutions in support of a woman's right to choose.

More than 4,000 people from Reform congregations across North America are attending the Reform Movement's five-day Biennial Convention in Minneapolis.