Ibrahim Samir Tbeil
Year 24
Month 06
Day 07
Abortion in Israel

Abortion in Israel

Although Israeli culture places a high premium on babies and families and owning the highest per capita use of In Vitro Fertilization in the world with free IVF procedures, abortion is legal and permitted in most cases.

According to the clauses 312-321 of the 1977 penal code which limit the circumstances when an abortion is legal in Israel, abortions must be approved by a termination committee. Abortions can only be performed by licensed gynecologists in recognized medical facilities that are specifically and publicly recognized as a provider of abortions. Under a 1977 abortion law, a termination committee can approve an abortion, in the following circumstances:

1.The woman is under seventeen or over forty years old;
2.The pregnancy derives from a relationship that is prohibited under the penal law, is incestuous, or is out of wedlock;
3.The fetus may have a physical or mental disability; or
4.Continuation of the pregnancy may endanger the woman’s life or cause her physical or mental harm.
A fifth condition—namely, an “economic clause”—was repealed on January 3, 1980. That provision previously authorized the CIP to approve an abortion if “continuation of the pregnancy might cause a serious harm to the woman or her children, based on the harsh family or social conditions of the woman and her environment.”

The 2014 “health basket” of medical services and medications approved by Israel’s cabinet Sunday (Jan. 5) includes free abortions for Israeli women aged 20 to 33, regardless of the circumstances.

The $4.6 million earmarked by the Health Ministry committee will cover some 6,300 abortions for women who cannot afford the procedure.

The State’s pro-nationalist policy, however, has not resulted in the prevention of abortions.  Under the Penal Law, interruption of a pregnancy is a criminal offense if conducted in the absence of an approval as regulated by law.  In reality, the overwhelming majority of requests for legal abortions are approved.

Although Israeli law imposes strict limitations on abortions, in practice 98.5% of all requests for abortions to the committees were approved in 2009, and 98.7% in 2010. According to a press release issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics on September 20, 2011, the percentage of abortions performed in Israel is 11.0 of any 100 known pregnancies in 2009.

Additional information further indicates that 13.3% of the total applications for approval of interruption of pregnancy in Israel were submitted by women younger than nineteen years of age, 51.4% involved a pregnancy out of wedlock, and 19.1% a pregnancy involving fetal physiological or mental defect.

According to the recently released report, 21,689 abortion requests were filed with the Health Ministry in 2012. Majority (97 percent) received approval and in total, 20,063 pregnancies were terminated. Roughly 1,000 abortions were not approved and therefore not carried out.

Reports indicate that the most cited reason for requesting an abortion in Israel is due to the woman being unmarried or that the pregnancy was an outcome of illicit sexual relations or incest. In 2012, 54 percent of women cited these reasons for wanting to terminate their pregnancy. 19 percent of women requested abortions for health risks to the mother; 18 percent cited abnormalities in the fetus; and 9 percent cited the mother’s age as below 17 or above 40.

But with half of abortions almost always approved and the other half conducted illegally, the committees are clearly gratuitous anda huge black market has developed.There are approximately 19,000 illegal abortions (of various kinds and in various settings) per year performed in Israel — the same number as legal abortions. “A thousand shekels in [West Bank Palestinian town] Qalqilya, 5,000 shekels in a fancy clinic in Tel Aviv, or 500 shekels with a knitting needle in Jaffa so welcome to Israel’s wild and reckless abortion black market.

On the other to date there have been no known cases where a doctor was indicted for the unauthorized interruption of a pregnancy in violation of the penal law.

With this data a huge debate about abortion starts to appear in Israel.The debate as to the morality of abortion is antecedent to the debate about separation of religion and state in the context of Israel as a Jewish State and a democratic.

Jewish Orthodox organizations, including political parties, strongly oppose abortion because Jewish law views abortion as a (lesser) form of murder. Political parties that champion this view include Shas, a Sephardic Haredi party, United Torah Judaism, an Ashkenazi Haredi party, and haBayit haYehudi Jewish Home, a Religious Zionist party. A study published in 2001 found that opposition to abortion among Israelis was correlated to strong religious beliefs — particularly Haredi beliefs — below-average income, larger family size, and identification with right-wing politics.


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