Retaining Abortion Rights

A group of women demonstrate in Jerusalem during December against proposed changes in the Israeli abortion laws that would greatly reduce access to legal abortions. Under an agreement between the ruling party in Israel, Likud, and the ultra-religious party, Agudah, the government has proposed to remove the committees which approve abortions from all private hospitals. This action would reduce the number of committees from 27 to 10. In addition, since the committees in public hospitals meet only once or twice a week, as opposed to four days in most private hospitals, fewer and fewer women would be able to get approval for abortions during the early stages of pregnancy.

Agudah members claim that private hospital committees should not exist because the hospitals make a profit from each abortion their committees approve. However Agudah has agreed to maintain the total number of committees by adding ones to public hospitals. Since the public hospital committees meet so infrequently, fewer women will be seen.

“The number of cases considered will be radically reduced’,’ pointed out Harriet Kurlander, director of the commission for women’s equality at the American Jewish Congress. “Women will be forced to seek illegal abortions!’