Abortion in Israel: A 'humiliating' process

i24NEWS

2 min read
Illustration photo of an ultrasound being conducted on a pregnant woman in Israel, acquired on January 9, 2021.
Chen Leopold/Flash90Illustration photo of an ultrasound being conducted on a pregnant woman in Israel, acquired on January 9, 2021.

Women in Israel seeking abortions must face a legally mandated committee for permission

Israel’s Health Minister Nitzan Horowtiz continues to advance a series of reforms that would expand access to abortion while removing barriers that women face when seeking the procedure.

Under current Israeli law, women do not have the automatic right to abortion.

In seeking one, a woman must request permission from a legally mandated pregnancy committee comprised of three representatives of the hospital or clinic that would perform the operation.

“The questions are very invasive. Questions like ‘Why don’t you use contraceptives or birth control?” Silvina Freund, executive director of the NGO Open Door, told i24NEWS

Women in Israel describe the process as humiliating, and attempts to reform the system were blocked for years, until now.

Horowitz recently proposed a set of reforms that would give the legislation a makeover. 

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“The idea of the committees was to get women to do fewer abortions… This was canceled by [Horowitz],” Dina Shalev, director of the NGO Lada’at Choose Well, told i24NEWS.

Although most requests are rarely rejected - less than one percent, according to Shalev - the committees are encouraged or even instructed to persuade women not to end their pregnancies.

“There is also a proposal to cancel the committees. This is something that Horowitz isn't putting forward himself, but some [parliament members] are,” Shalev noted.

“There’s still a long way until we get to that, but that’s the end game.”

Before then, though, a specific reform would see the replacement of the committee with a more advisory approach.

“It will give women the freedom of choice,” Freund said.