Despite the concerning threats to Roe v. Wade in the United States Supreme Court, Israel’s Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz is offering a sliver of solace for women’s reproductive health rights. Horowitz has decided to update the “chauvinistic” and “ridiculously outdated” abortion rules in Israel.
The law currently requires any woman seeking an abortion to apply and receive approval from a 3-person committee. The application to see the committee dates back to 1977, and getting access to a meeting is often a lengthy process, especially for women in marginalized communities with a lack of resources. While the committee approves about 98% of abortions, the process of questioning itself is overly invasive and aims to manipulate women in order to increase the State’s birth rate.
In 2020, the Health Ministry shows that over 17,548 abortions were approved; however, there are likely just as many illegal abortions taking place, in private doctors’ offices that bypass the committee approvals for pricy procedures, or offer less expensive and more medically dangerous circumstances.
Horowitz and fellow MKs Michal Rozin and Gaby Lasky are working to create more ease for women seeking abortions, and to shift from an approval committee to an advisory one. They are also hoping to remove the need to see a committee for abortions before 12 weeks altogether.
In a statement, Horowitz says “It should be a given that the rights to a woman’s body are the woman’s alone. Any decision, or medical procedure, such as the choice of whether to perform an abortion, must be in the hands of the woman. We have no moral right to decide for her how to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.”
Rozin includes “Women deserve full autonomy in everything related to their bodies, and it is time to enshrine it in legislation.”