Israel Will Pay for Some Elective Abortions

Monday, 30 Dec 2013 11:15 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Israel will pay for elective abortions starting next year for all women ages 20 to 33 — and could ultimately extend the age limit, making coverage universal, Haaretz reported Monday.

The Israeli newspaper said the proposal came from a committee that determines what medicines and medical technologies will be added to a so-called "health basket" for 2014.

Until now, subsidized abortions for women of all ages were available only in medical emergencies or in cases of rape and sexual abuse; women under 20 or over 40 were also eligible even if the reason was personal, the newspaper noted.

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The proposal must be approved by the country's Health Ministry, and then by its cabinet. Even if approved, women would still have to go before a state committee before terminating a pregnancy, the newspaper reported.

According to Haaretz, the new rule would allow state-funded abortions for an additional 6,300 women next year, at a cost of about $4.6 million.

"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," health committee head Jonathan Halevy said, the newspaper reported.

"In the current [health] basket we've approved funding for pregnancy termination for women in the 20-to-33 age group, with the intention of completing the process . . . and raising the age to 40."

Contraceptives are not paid for by the government because "when we're talking about financing for the entire population, that's a hefty sum," Halevy said.

Although ending a pregnancy is technically illegal in Israel, punishable by up to five years in prison, there are several exceptions under which abortion is permitted.

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