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Health Minister: Israeli Women Will Not Lose Abortion Rights

Israel’s Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said on Sunday there was no immediate risk to reproductive rights in Israel. “However, we have to remain vigilant,” he said. His comments, made on Kan public radio, come in light of the US Supreme Court’s overturning on Friday of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that the US Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

Israeli law permits abortion to nearly all women who seek it, but they must still request permission from a three-member “termination committee” and state their reasons for having the procedure; 98% of requests are approved.

Last December, the minister said he would make changes to the rules governing termination committees, which grant permission to women in Israel to have abortions, up to week 24, paid for by their state-funded health insurance. Women have complained that the questioning they undergo to show cause for an abortion is intrusive and humiliating. Horowitz wanted to make abortion available up to week 12 without the need for permission. Abortions beyond week 24 require special permission from a separate panel.

With Israel’s legislature in disarray and about to dissolve itself, the reform Horowitz wanted to implement will certainly be delayed at least until elections are held and a new government is formed. And if that government is a coalition of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties, it is unlikely to happen at all.