A recent report by the Israeli Ministry of Health showed that abortion rates in Israel have been declining for the last quarter century. However, Israel continues to have some of the most liberal abortion laws compared to other western countries. This week, the Knesset held a conference sponsored by the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality. One of the main topics of discussion was the abolition of governmental abortion panels in Israeli hospitals.
Dr. Eli Schussheim, chairman of Efrat, argued before the committee in favor of a motion to do away with the abortion committees. Arguably the most vocal pro-life NGO in Israel, Efrat has worked tirelessly over the years to save unborn children from abortion. The organization, which was founded in 1977, has helped save the lives of over 56,000 children in Israel.
Originally, Dr. Schussheim was in favor of supporting the abortion committees on the basis that they would provide social workers, support, and advice for women thinking about having an abortion. With an approval rate of 97 percent, the abortion committees have proven to be superfluous and he has therefore redacted his support.
“These committees were originally meant to help these women, however they have become ineffective and redundant,” Schussheim argued.
Dr. Schussheim implored the Knesset Committee to properly examine each individual case and take the various personal and emotional aspects of each woman into consideration. “The doctors and social workers do not properly explain the medical and emotional risks of the abortion procedure. Also, those choosing to end their pregnancy because of financial concerns are not told that organizations exist to help them,” Schussheim explained.
The doctor went on to recommend three provisions that could be used to replace the abortion committees.
The first provision was that the Ministry of Health should provide women contemplating an abortion educational literature on the medical and emotional risks involved, “like any other medical procedure of its severity.”
Second, Dr. Schussheim recommended that after being given the literature, there is a “mandatory cooling off period of 72 hours” to allow the women a length of time to really consider her options.
Lastly, the doctor suggested that the women should be given information on welfare organization that would be able to guide the mother through her emotional, physical, and financial troubles.