Israel relaxes abortion approval process following Roe v. Wade overturning

Health Minister announces dramatic roll-back of bureaucratic procedures preceding abortion.

By World Israel News Staff

Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced Monday that the state-mandated approval process which women need to undergo in order to obtain an abortion will be significantly streamlined, days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.

Abortion has been legal in Israel since 1977, but to qualify for the procedure, women must meet certain criteria and present their case in front of an approval committee.

According to the new regulations which come into effect in September, women seeking abortions will no longer have to travel to a hospital to present their case, in person, in front of a three-person panel. They can now complete a questionnaire online instead.

Additionally, the requirement that women meet with a social worker as part of the process has been cancelled, and “intrusive” questions, such as whether or not the woman requesting the abortion had used contraceptives with her partner, will be eliminated from the screening process.

“The rights to a woman’s body are those of the woman alone,” said Horowitz in a statement following the decision.

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He said that the decision to relax the bureaucratic procedures around abortion came partly as a response to “the move by the US Supreme Court to deny women control of their bodies…oppressing women and setting back the leader of the free and liberal world by a hundred years.”

Women who are unmarried, under the age of 20, or over the age of 40 will automatically receive approval. If the fetus was conceived as a result of incest, rape, or adultery, has a serious abnormality or defect, or poses a risk to the health or life of the mother, approval is also given.

What constitutes a risk to the life of the mother is liberally interpreted in Israel – for example, if a woman says that giving birth will have a negative impact on her emotional or mental wellbeing, the approval committee will accept that answer as grounds for an abortion.

Some 99.7% of abortion requests are approved in Israel.

According to a Ynet report, the Health Ministry recorded 17,548 requests for abortions in 2021.