Israelis React to Overturning of Roe v. Wade
Republican and Democratic reps in Israel weigh political cost of US Supreme Court’s decision; Israeli government approves new regulations easing access to procedure
The US Supreme Court’s recent decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, is sending shockwaves around the globe.
The court found that the freedom to choose to have an abortion was not “deeply rooted in this nation’s history or tradition” and was not considered a right when the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868. With this liberty no longer protected by the federal government, abortion legislation in the US will now be determined by the 50 individual states, nearly half of which are set to either ban abortions outright or implement strict restrictions.
The Media Line asked women in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv what they think of the ruling.
Every woman should have the right to choose what to do with her body and it’s a basic choice. Women who get raped [will] need to keep their child as if they chose to have it in the first place.
“I think it’s horrible,” Yana, a resident of Jerusalem, said. “I think every woman should have the right to choose what to do with her body and it’s a basic choice. Women who get raped [will] need to keep their child as if they chose to have it in the first place.”
“I think it’s crazy and not right at all to do something like that,” Inbal, also a Jerusalem resident, said. “It’s the basic right of a woman to decide what she wants to do with her body, especially when you’re talking about the early months of pregnancy.”
I’m scared for all the women in the United States
Simone, an American who was visiting Tel Aviv, said she was shocked by the ruling.
“I’m scared for all the women in the United States,” she said. “I personally am lucky that I live in Connecticut close to New York and that I have an address there. [I] feel safe that I would be able to have an abortion if I needed to but it’s terrifying.”
There is no consensus in Israel on when a woman should consider terminating a pregnancy. But abortion is legal and a far less politically charged issue in the Jewish state than it is in the United States, partly because Judaism holds that personhood begins at birth.
Nevertheless, women must still go through a “pregnancy termination committee” to get the procedure.
“In the Jewish outlook, the question of abortion is actually very nuanced,” Leah, a religious resident of Jerusalem, told The Media Line. “There’s a wide range of opinions but fetal life has at least significance. Even if we don’t agree that life starts at conception, in Judaism we give significance to fetal life and therefore it cannot be stopped for just any reason whatsoever. There have to be certain limits.”
In the Jewish outlook, the question of abortion is actually very nuanced. There’s a wide range of opinions but fetal life has at least significance. … It cannot be stopped for just any reason whatsoever. There have to be certain limits.
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The Supreme Court’s decision has drawn intense reactions and could impact voting patterns among American expats in the upcoming midterm elections. Of the millions of Americans living abroad, roughly 180,000 live in Israel, according to the tax firm Bright Tax.
Those who vote based on a candidate’s abortion position, if that‘s their primary issue then they are primarily very pro-life
“I don’t think that it’s going to make a whole lot of difference,” Abraham Katsman, counsel at Republicans Overseas Israel, told The Media Line. “Maybe in the upcoming midterms a little bit, but I’m not even sure in which direction. Those who vote based on a candidate’s abortion position, if that‘s their primary issue then they are primarily very pro-life.”
Heather Stone, global deputy international counsel for Democrats Abroad, disagreed with Katsman’s views.
The results of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and also the decision with respect to gun control are going to make Americans living here in Israel think twice about what they’re going to do with their vote
“Approximately 75% of Americans living overseas vote Democrat,” she related to The Media Line. “Perhaps in Israel, it’s more 50/50 than in other countries, but I think that the results of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and also the decision with respect to gun control are going to make Americans living here in Israel think twice about what they’re going to do with their vote.”
As America restricts abortion access, Israel is headed in the opposite direction.
Earlier this week, an Israeli parliamentary committee approved new regulations that will make early-term abortions available at local health clinics. Women will also no longer have to physically appear before a committee and the approval process will be digitized. The new rules are set to take effect in three months.
Aron Rosenthal is a student at the University of Edinburgh and an intern in The Media Line’s Press and Policy Student Program.