Israel’s abortion rates are still declining, but the status quo is under attack

By Jonathon Van Maren

Back in 2018, I reported in this space the good news that the abortion rate in Israel was steadily declining. Abortion has been legal in the country since 1977 under a supposedly strict set of conditions whereby each abortion must be approved by so-called “termination committees,” which determine whether or not the request aligns with Israeli guidelines.

Under these guidelines, women can abort their baby if they are under 18; over 40; if the baby is conceived through rape, incest, or outside marriage; if the baby has a birth defect, or if the committee decides that the woman’s life or health is at risk. These committees purportedly approve just over 99% of requested abortions.

Despite this gruesome stat, these committees do serve a deterrent purpose — which is the intention of their existence. Israel (like all nations) has a vested interest in her birthrate, and each abortion is a loss. Termination committees are made up of two doctors and a social worker, who represent the hospital or clinic being asked to provide the abortion. But even this minor hurdle is now coming under attack by those who demand abortion on demand without the slightest bit of hesitancy on the part of the public health system they expect to provide these procedures.

In fact, at one point these committees were still performing a significant obstructionist function, with a 1988 Health Ministry directive telling committees to ask women to reconsider their abortions — and for a time, up to 10% of abortion requests were rejected. Once the directive was scrapped, rejections promptly plummeted, and pro-life groups now say that the committees are little more than dispensers of rubber stamps.

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