About one out of 10 known pregnancies end in an abortion initiated by the woman or both parents – a decline from 15.2 percent in 1988, according to a new Central Bureau of Statistics report on terminations of pregnancy in 2011.
Fully 10 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49 applied for a termination of pregnancy.
The report, issued on Monday, stated that 18,974 women asked for terminations that year, and 99.1% of them were approved by abortion committees in the hospitals. Applications rates for abortions were twice as high among Jews than among Muslims, Christians or Druse.
Meanwhile, in the last decade, while the abortion rates among Jews and Christians have declined, they have risen somewhat among Muslim women.
The continuing general decline in abortions from the 1990s is believed to result, among other reasons, from the decline in immigration of women from the former Soviet Union, who in their native country used abortions for contraception.
Women of this origin have learned in Israel how to use better contraception methods.
The report said that 11.7% of the applications were from women younger than 19. Of all the applications, 44.6% were from single women, 43.6% married, 11.2% divorced and 0.5% widows. Nearly 88% of the applications were by women who were in their first trimester of pregnancy (the end of the 12th week).
Among Muslims, the percentage who first applied for an abortion in the second trimester was higher than among Jewish women.
The most common reason for the application was pregnancy outside of marriage (49.9%); 20.3% of the applications came under the reason that pregnancy to term would cause physical or mental damage to the fetus.
Other permissible reasons are forbidden sexual relations, the age of the mother being 17 or younger and over 40, and physical or mental damage caused by the pregnancy to the mother.
Only 10% of applications involved women aged 17 or younger or 40 or older.
Almost 70% of the women who applied for an abortion in 2011 had not done so previously, but 21.5% had had one previous abortion and 9.4% had had two or more terminations before.
The higher the age of the fetus, the higher the rate of requests for terminations due to fear that the health of the fetus was endangered.
Compared to abortion rates in other developed countries, the figure in Israel is moderate. In Wales and the US, the rates are higher (17.5% to 19.6% respectively), while in Switzerland it is 6.8%, 7.2% in Germany and 9% in Finland.