On Tuesday, a court decision ruled against a charity organization supporting expectant mothers. While elective abortion is legal in Israel, the recent court case may signal a move by pro-abortion elements toward increasing the legal limits of abortion and making it more difficult to offer aid as an alternative.
For the past six years, Kalina Schwartz has headed Eema (mother), an acronym for “Eema Matzila Oti” (Mother saves me), the aptly named anti-abortion branch of the Hidabroot organization that for the past 20 years has offered aid to pregnant women. They provide counseling and assistance to pregnant women who turn to them for help. In this manner, Eema has saved over 7,500 babies.
Schwartz was accused of violating the privacy of a woman after a third party contacted her organization and they returned the call.
“We were very careful with the privacy of the woman but in this case, because the contact was from a third party who was concerned about the woman, when I returned the call, this violated the privacy of the woman,” Schwartz explained. “The court did a complete review of our operations and this was the only case in which we erred.”
The organization has been the subject of negative coverage by the left-wing media for several years and the court accepted their claim that the prosecutors were carrying out selective enforcement when bringing a case against Schwartz and her organization. Her lawyers plan on appealing the judgment.
Schwartz explained that her organization is challenged to prevent abortions even though the law permits them.
“Wherever there is life, that is where our work is,” she told Israel365 News. “It is her decision and it is the mother’s right to change her mind and we will be there for her. Even if she has an abortion, the woman may still need help. It is a difficult period for her.”
Eema is a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) organization but they help women of all denominations.
“Abortion violated the Naohide prohibition against spilling blood,” Schwartz explained. “This applies to the entire human race; Jewish, Muslim, and Christian.”
Schwartz noted that the government systems are not geared towards helping the mother but are focused on providing abortions.
“Unfortunately, the system that is established tried to take the decision away from the mother and convince her that she has no choice but to abort the baby,” Schwartz said. “And that is all they are willing to do to ‘help’ her.”
“The abortion advocates claim that we are bribing the mother by helping her and using emotional blackmail by listening to her and caring,” Schwartz said.
Since abortion is legal in Israel and subsidized by the government, reform efforts are less about access and more about concerns regarding the procedure required to access an abortion. A 1977 law ensures a low-cost, and in some cases free, legal abortion to any Israeli woman who fills one of four criteria:
- She is under 18 or over 40.
- She carries a fetus with a severe 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 her physical or mental health would be harmed by continuing the pregnancy (free)
A woman seeking an abortion must have it approved by a three-person committee composed of two physicians and a social worker (one of whom must be a woman). Almost all requests are approved. According to a report by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Health Ministry’s pregnancy termination committee received 16,591 requests to terminate pregnancies in 2021. 99.5% of the requests were approved. A separate committee decides on abortions after the fetus is 24 weeks old though few hospitals perform such abortions. Women choosing to have an abortion at a private clinic are not subject to a ruling by a committee.