Abortions in Israel Could Soon Be Free

Written by Tara Culp-Ressler

Beginning in 2014, Israel may cover the cost of elective abortions for women in between the ages of 20 and 33. Health officials in the country recommended the new policy on Monday, and indicated they eventually intend to expand it to offer abortion funding to women of all ages. It now heads to country’s Health Ministry for approval.

In Israel, a health committee determines which treatments will be funded through government dollars by approving some medical services for inclusion in a state-subsidized “heath basket,” and sends their recommendations to the entire Health Ministry for official approval. Before the proposed update to this basket, women under the age of 20 or over the age of 40 could receive subsidized abortion services for personal reasons — but women in between those age groups could only get abortion funding if they were suffering a medical emergency, or if their pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

If the policy is updated in line with the new recommendations, an additional 6,300 women may be eligible to seek state funding for abortion care.

In a press conference on Monday, the committee members explained that the rule change is necessary because not every women can afford the reproductive care she needs without state assistance. “It was brought to our attention that there is a large group of women between 20 and 40 who for various reasons — financial or reasons of secrecy — do not terminate pregnancies,” Prof. Jonathan Halevy, who heads the panel that makes the final recommendations for the health basket, explained.

Halevy indicated that the committee is waiting for more funding to be able to expand the health basket to include elective abortions for all age groups. State-subsidized contraceptives are not currently available because of limited funds; the committee was allowed to use the equivalent of $86 million USD to expand the services offered in the basket.

Abortion is less of a hot-button issue in Israel than it is in the United States. Although ending a pregnancy is technically illegal in Israel, punishable by up to five years in prison, there are a wide range of exceptions under which abortion is permitted. Before obtaining state funding for abortion, women have to appear before a government panel of experts and explain why they need one — but approval is practically automatic. Women seeking abortions do not need consent from a man, and minors don’t need consent from their parents. Women serving in the military have access to at least one state-funded abortion.

Here in the United States, lawmakers have taken the opposite approach, moving to ban taxpayer-funded abortions at all costs. The strict separation between state dollars and abortion services has resulted in a deep economic divide among the women who have unintended pregnancies. The poorest women in the U.S. often can’t afford the cost of abortion, and end up slipping deeper into poverty after carrying unintended pregnancies to term. Nonetheless, a mounting pile of state-level abortion restrictions continues to drive up the cost of reproductive care in this country.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo credit: Thinkstock


debby ro
Deborah ro2 years ago

In the last few years poverty rates and child negligence cases have grown in percentage .If free abortion will be the answer to the problem I am not sure .
As well as making terminating an unwanted pregnancy easier, quite a bit of help is given to those that want a child ,in any way possible. In my opinion the numbers of single parents and same sex parents have grown also in the last few years .

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

Correction: [http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Medicaid-doesn-t-pay-for-couple-s-heartbreak-4285414.php]"But some states — 17 — use their own dollars to fund wider coverage of abortion for Medicaid clients, such as when the physical or mental health of the woman is at risk."

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

"I don;t have clear information on whether or not a severely disabled fetus can be aborted under Medicaid or Medicare."

The answer is [oddly enough] yes; depending on the state. They will abort premature fetuses too. They look at the costs, viability and health of the mother. Tx does not.

[http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/lo]"But some states — 17 — use their own dollars to fund wider coverage of abortion for Medicaid clients, such as when the physical or mental health of the woman is at risk.cal_news/article/Medicaid-doesn-t-pay-for-couple-s-heartbreak-4285414.php]"

Tx would rather pay thousands [maybe a million] for prenatal care then approve an abortion for $4k. And in this case two of the quintuplets died anyway. Stupid and cruel.

Ve G.
Ve G2 years ago


Marianne C.
Marianne C2 years ago

Dang it, one of my zeros dies in transport!

That should have said $0.001 per taxpayer -- as in, the total of taxpayer funded abortions that year, spread out over the number of taxpayers, comes to 1 tenth or one cent each.

So we're not exactly throwing tax dollars at abortion like there was no tomorrow. More money gets thrown at pole dancers than at poor women who need abortions.

Marianne C.
Marianne C2 years ago

@ Bryna P:

There are a few tax-funded abortions. Just not elective ones. Women (girls) on Medicaid and Medicare CAN get an abortion covered by their tax-funded health care under certain very stringent circumstances: rape, incest, life of the woman threatened by the pregnancy. I don;t have clear information on whether or not a severely disabled fetus can be aborted under Medicaid or Medicare.

A couple of years ago, there were (if memory serves) 298 taxpayer provided abortions in the entire country. They cost each taxpayer $0.01.

The alternate truth is that unintended pregnancies cost taxpayers between $11 and $12 billion a year.

So the bottom line is that it IS NOT about the money. It never is. It's always about power and control over women, and being able to force something on them that they don't want.

A F.
Athena F2 years ago

Thank you

Brad H.
Brad H2 years ago


Nelson Petrie
Nelson Petrie2 years ago

In fact the need is greater in the USA for such services. Over the decade poverty in this nation has increased manifold. Still, the religious right,the Republicans and conservative Catholic bishops have not felt the need to compromise on this issue. Naturally, just like in other poor and developing nations like India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh where abortion is either not permitted or very restricted, poverty levels are increasing in the USA supposedly the richest nation (LOL!) on earth and the most powerful.It will always be the religious conservatives that will bring this nation to poverty and shame in the name of religion. Stopping abortion and poverty go hand in hand. When will the self-centered Republicans and religious leaders realize this?

Koty Lapid
Koty Lapid2 years ago

Thank you for your article.