Israel has second-lowest abortion rate in Europe, continues to drop

Only Croatia had a lower abortion rate that Israel.

March 31, 2015 18:04
1 minute read.

Shaare Zedek Hospital. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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The legal abortion rate in 2013 declined by 5 percent compared to 2012, 18% compared to 2000 and 25% since 1990, the Health Ministry announced on Tuesday.

The abortion rate in 2013 was 10.2 per 1,000 women of fertile age (15 to 49).

Women may apply for a legal abortion if the fetus resulted from illegal sexual relations or outside matrimony, if the mother is younger than 17 or over 40, if the fetus has a defect or if the mother’s health (physical or mental) would be endangered by having the baby.

The public abortion committees in hospitals received 20,857 applications in 2013 and approved 98% of them. Of these, 19,356 women went through with the abortion. Half of the procedures were carried out in private hospitals or clinics, 29% in government hospitals, 18% in Clalit Health Services hospitals and 5% in voluntary hospitals in Jerusalem, compared to 59%, 25%, 13% and 5%, respectively, in 2000.

Half of the legal abortions in 2013 were approved under the section of the law allowing termination of pregnancies from illegal relations or those outside matrimony, with 19% under the clause for danger to the women, 20% for a defective fetus and 10% because of the woman’s age.

The legal abortion rate in Israel is lower than in Western and Central Europe, even among young women up to the age of 20 and over 35. The legal abortion rate here (117) per 1,000 live births was the second lowest compared to Croatia (85.5), compared to 434 in Bulgaria.

Possible reasons for the steady trend of fewer abortions are the growing religious populations (Jewish and Muslim) and the fact that many women from the former Soviet Union who came on aliya in the 1990s and were used to abortions instead of contraception are now beyond childbearing age.

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