Abortion in Israel

A 1977 law ensures a low-cost, and in some cases free, legal abortion to any woman who fills one of four criteria:

         She is under 18 or over 40 (cost to those in between: 1,500 shekels [$370]).

         She is carrying a fetus with a serious mental or physical defect (free).

         She claims that the fetus results from forbidden relations such as rape or incest (free) or, in the case of a married woman, that the baby is not her husband's (not free). Single women also fall under this clause, and they too must pay.

         She shows that by continuing the pregnancy, her physical or mental health would be damaged (free).

A woman who seeks to terminate a pregnancy must appear before one of the 41 abortion committees operating in public and private hospitals around the country. These committees include a physician whose field of expertise is obstetrics and gynecology; another physician who is either a family doctor, psychiatrist, internist or gynecologist and a social worker. At least one woman must be present on each committee.

Six separate committees consider requests for termination when a fetus is beyond 24 weeks old. No hospitals in Jerusalem, however, will perform these abortions.

In 1999, 19,674 applications out of 20,581 were approved (96%) and 18,785 pregnancies were terminated. In addition, 16,000 abortions were illegally performed in private doctors' clinics.

Source: Jerusalem Report, (February 12, 2001).

 

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