ISRAEL – The Israeli government has announced that it will begin offering free abortions to women who are between the ages of 20 and 33.
According to The Times of Israel, Dr. Yonatan Halevy—head of Israel’s Health Ministry commission—recently announced changes to the country’s government-subsidized “health basket.” As a result of the changes, which were approved by the cabinet, the government will offer 20- to 33-year-old women free, state-subsidized abortions.
“We want large families in Israel,” Halevy said. “We definitely encourage birth. But when pregnancy occurs and it is undesired or inadvertent, I think we should supply the means to end the pregnancy properly.”
For several years, the Israeli government has offered subsidized abortions to women who are under the age of 20 or over the age of 40. However, this year’s policy changes will dramatically expand the coverage and availability of free abortions.
The new measures will not require women to present any medical reason for ending the life of the child, thus enacting abortion on demand.
Political observers say the new abortion law is “among the world’s most liberal.”
“There is no country in the world where its citizens are entitled to public funding for such a wide basket of services,” Halevy stated.
Though abortion advocates are heralding the new abortion policy as a significant victory, pro-life Israeli leaders are strongly criticizing the law. Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger and Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar issued a letter, in which they called abortion “murder.”
“As in [the] past,” their letter reads, “we call on all rabbis in Israel … [to support] the severe prohibition of abortion.”
Life Site News reports that Dr. Eli Schussheim, director of the pro-life organization Efrat, believes abortions present a major threat to Israel’s small population.
“Israel has lost more than one and a half million Jewish children to abortion since 1948,” he said. “In a country of about 5.5 million Jews, this number has great demographic significance. Imagine how much stronger Israel would have been today with one million more Jews.”
Despite the widespread availability of abortions in Israel, pro-life leaders plead with women to not terminate their pregnancies. In an open letter on their website, Efrat spokespersons say “abortion means ending the life of child who is not sufficiently developed to survive outside its mother’s womb.”
“Although the vast majority of abortions are performed on socio-economic grounds, an abortion does not resolve financial or social difficulties,” the letter states. “Very often, the psychological scars caused by an abortion only serve to complicate existing problems. Sometimes, it takes women a lifetime to resolve these issues.”
“Economic and social problems can be worked out,” the letter adds. “Situations can—and do—change. But a life can never be restored.”
“In our thirty-five years of experience educating women,” the Efrat letter concludes, “we have never seen a woman who regretted having her baby.”