It’s the new year, and one of Israel’s new year resolutions has been to make abortions free for women between the ages of 20 and 33.
Until now, subsidized abortions for women of all ages were available in medical emergencies or in case of molest and intimate abuse. Women under the age of 20 or over 40 were also eligible for abortion funding even when the reason was personal.
Despite the new funding, which was recently approved as part of Israel’s state-subsidized “health basket” for 2014, women will still have to appear before a state committee before terminating a pregnancy.
The new rule opens it up for 6,300 more women to have a state-funded abortion next year, at a cost of about 16 million shekels ($4.6 million). The cost of all state-subsidized abortions is estimated at 24 million shekels a year.
Monday’s news was announced by the committee that determines which medicines and medical technologies will be added to the 2014 health basket. The health-basket committee is headed by the director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Prof. Jonathan Halevy.
“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,” Halevy told a press conference. “In the current 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.”
The committee is keeping contraceptives outside the health basket, but Halevy said this was only due to a lack of funds. “The private expense for birth control pills is low, but when we’re talking about financing for the entire population, that’s a hefty sum,” he said.