Doctors strike over judicial reform, say ‘abortion bans, race and gender-based discrimination’ in medicine to come

Head of doctors’ strike claims that ending reasonability clause will lead to discriminatory practices in medicine.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel’s doctors and nurses will hold a so-called “warning strike” on Wednesday, canceling “non-urgent procedures” and refusing to work in hospitals and medical clinics as an act of protest against the ongoing judicial reform legislation, specifically a bill aimed at ending the reasonableness clause.

Dr. Idit Matot, a protester leader with the Israeli Medical Association and head of the Intensive Care Unit at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, framed the potential cancellation of the reasonability clause as a life-or-death matter.

“I prefer to die because I took action than to die slowly [in a situation where] I am trampled every day. I feel my rights are being trampled. When the laws change, there will be anti-liberal coercion: denial of the right to abortion and the right to surrogacy… preference for medical rights according to race and gender,” Matot said in an interview with Channel 12 News.

“We are not fighting for our wages, but for the patients. The cancellation of the reasonability clause means one thing: that not everyone will receive the same treatment.”

Matot did not provide any evidence for her allegations, nor did she explain how a law that limits the Supreme Court’s ability to interfere with government decisions based on a subjective standard would result in discriminatory practices in medicine.

Matot also dismissed an open letter from some 500 doctors who said that they disagreed with the strike and were concerned about the politicization of the organization.

“Only a tiny number” of Israel’s 30,000 doctors signed their names to the public letter formally expressing opposition to the protest, Matot said. Therefore, she asserted, the majority of doctors do support the strike. She apparently did not consider the possibility that large numbers of doctors may be opposed to the strike but hesitant to state their views publicly.

While the Israeli Medical Association claims that it will continue to operate in an emergency format and therefore their protest would not endanger patients’ lives, the doctors’ strike as part of mass anti-judicial demonstrations in March 2023 negatively impacted the care of Israelis with life-threatening conditions.

At the time, a post from one man who was directly affected by the strike went viral on Facebook. Shai Shlomai, a father in his 40s suffering from Stage 3 colon cancer, was shocked to see that a critical MRI appointment had been postponed by at least two months due to the strike.

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Shlomai explained that doctors needed his MRI results to determine whether the chemotherapy he endured had worked or if his cancer had further metastasized. Without the MRI, his cancer treatment would have to be put on hold.

“So to the Medical Association, the defenders of ‘democracy’, I wanted to tell you that you are the beautiful face of Israel! You are the ones who take responsibility here and save us! Thank you thank you thank you!!!” Shlomai wrote sarcastically.