CBS: Legal abortion rate is down

A little over one-10th of pregnancies in the country end in an abortion initiated by the woman.

Pregnant women [illustrative]_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Pregnant women [illustrative]_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
A full 98.7 percent of women’s 19,575 applications for a legal abortion in 2010 and 99 percent of 18,999 applications in 2011 were approved by public abortion committees in hospitals, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Wednesday.
A little over one-10th of pregnancies in the country end in an abortion initiated by the woman. This figure, however, is on the decline, as in 1988, the figure was 15.2 abortions out of 100 pregnancies, in other words, about one in seven.
This is apparently partially due to the fact that many abortions were performed on immigrants from the former Soviet Union who had become used to abortion in their native country as a contraceptive.
Today, most of these women are elderly, and the number of immigrants from the FSU has drastically declined. In addition, the growing share in the population of religious Jewish women reduces the demand for abortions.
Abortion approval committees include doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and clergymen.
Prof. Ruth Landau, an ethics, birth and IVF expert at the Hebrew University’s School of Social Work, commented Thursday on the recent tragedy in which 18- year-old Raz Attias was shot and killed by volunteer police, after he shot at them as they tried to save his pregnant girlfriend who made a suicide pact with Attias.
The girl was apparently afraid to apply for an abortion, even though by law she could have had one.
Landau said that the total of applications for abortions has not risen with the increase in the population and is relatively low compared to other Western countries, partly due to more contraceptive use.
“Depite this, women over 17 and under 40 are required by law to appear before a public abortion committee and present before strangers their own intimate information.
One must remember that married, healthy women who want to abort are forced to get a psychiatrist’s authorization to show [falsely] that they would have psychiatric problems completing the pregnancy and giving birth – a very unpleasant situation, to say the least,” said Landau.
The HU expert added that in most Western countries, there is no obligation to go through such committees.
“This will change only through legislation – which religious parties, who have been in various coalitions over the years, strongly oppose.”
Out of 1,000 Israeli women aged 15 to 49 last year, 5.7 of women who requested permission for an abortion were Druse and 6.3 Muslim, compared to 11.3 Jews and 13.1 Christian. Of the total, 13.2% were girls and women up to the age of 19.
Fully 45.3% were unmarried and 88% were applications during the first trimester of pregnancy.
More than half (50.5%) of all applications for abortion fell under the criteria of women pregnant “outside of marriage,” while 19.4% involved physical or mental damage liable to occur in the fetus.
In 2010, 77.4% of those applying for an abortion were Jewish; 10.3% Muslim; 2.8% Christian, 0.1% Druse and 8.5% without a known religion.
As in 2011, 45.3% of applicants were single; 42.9% married, 11.1% divorced and 0.4% widows. The share of single women has risen in the last decade, the CBS said.
As the share of women from the FSU has declined, that of immigrant women from Ethiopia has increased.
The share of women of Ethiopian origin who were born in Israel was lower than their counterparts who were born abroad.
Almost 70% of the women who applied for an abortion had never done so before; 21% had a previous abortion, while 9% had more than one.
A total of 3,742 abortions were approved due to the risk of a defect in the fetus, but in only 1,544 cases among these was there pathological or other clear evidence that the fetus had a high probability of certainty of having a defect.
The abortion rate among fertile Israeli women (10.8 per thousand) was moderate compared to other advanced Western countries. The rate in England, Wales, the US ranged up to 19%. However, the Israeli rate was higher than in Germany (7.2), Holland (8.7) and Norway (8.6).