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Half the women in Israel who requested an abortion were married

Pro-life group notes that people "always expect you are talking about 19-year-olds”

Illustrative image (Photo: Shutterstock)

Some 50% of Israeli women who requested an abortion in 2021 were married, compared to 40% who were single, according to the latest survey published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) earlier this week.

Sandy Shoshani, national director of Be’ad Chaim (pro-life in Hebrew), noted that the numbers disprove the narrative that mostly young, single women seek to have an abortion. In fact, only 6.8% of the abortion requests were made by women under age 19 that year.

“People always think they are young girls who are getting abortions. They always expect you are talking about 19-year-olds,” Shoshani said. “These statistics are always very shocking to people, that half of the abortions are married women.”

According to the report, the abortion committees fielded 16,591 requests to terminate pregnancies and approved 99.5% of those requests for the procedure, a number which has risen in recent years, even as the official number of abortions has decreased.

In 2020, 17,688 women sought abortions, according to the CBS.

But for years now, Be’ad Chaim has contested the official abortion figures in Israel, estimating them to be between one-third to double the official number. Shoshani said Be’ad Chaim met with the CBS and realized abortions are not being properly recorded.

“The CBS is doing their job, they’re just not getting the right numbers,” Shoshani told ALL ISRAEL NEWS. “Sometimes doctors write ‘miscarriage’ instead of an abortion.”

The term “stillbirth” is also sometimes used. The reason is mostly due to language and semantics; in Hebrew the word for both abortion and miscarriage is hapala, but without the words “spontaneous” or “natural” to refer to a miscarriage, it is impossible to differentiate.

Also, private abortions are not necessarily reported and would not be included in the number count.

Shoshani noted that ever since abortions became legal in Israel, the official number of abortions has remained more or less the same, despite the population more than doubling since then. That is why Be’ad Chaim has consistently challenged the numbers.

“They haven’t changed in 40 years. The population tripled and it's still the same number of abortions,” she said. “How can that possibly be?”

Shoshani also noted that the CBS doesn’t record the actual abortions.

“They record the applicants and how many were approved,” she said. “They can only record the approved ones.”

While some Israelis believe that getting an abortion might get tougher with the new right-wing government in power, it is unlikely that there will be an instant turnaround in the numbers.

Here are some facts about abortion in the Jewish state:

  • Abortions are free – government-funded – for women ages 20 to 32 and over 40

  • Women younger than 20 and older than 32 can also apply for a free abortion

  • The Israel Defense Forces provides two free abortions for female soldiers (typical age is 18-20)

  • In some cases, abortions are allowed up until time of birth, especially if a chromosomal or genetic problem is discovered

  • Israel ranks No. 1 in the world in prenatal testing

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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