Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz vowed on Tuesday to make it easier to get an abortion in Israel, after a US Supreme Court draft opinion to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that guarantees federal constitutional protections of abortion rights was leaked.
The "most significant step backward"
“The right of a woman to her body is hers and hers alone,” Horowitz said. “If the Supreme Court sends the leadership of the free world back 50 years, it would be a fatal blow to human rights. Meanwhile, we are moving forward and updating the antiquated procedures in the Health Ministry that were intended to prevent women from choosing. We are putting the decision in their hands.”
Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman, who heads the as-yet unformed Knesset Committee for Advancing the Status of Women, said the ruling would be the most significant step backward in the struggle of women and the feminist movement in the United States in decades.
“The removal of the rights of women to their bodies will first of all harm the weakest women, who will be forced to give birth against their will and receive medical care underground,” she warned. “I hope there will be huge protests that result in the decision being overturned. The same conservative forces who pushed for this decision are trying to advance similar steps here. We cannot let it happen.”
A "complicated issue"
Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman said that within Jewish law, there are different times and circumstances during pregnancy when abortions are more or less permitted. He said the current system in Israel of medical committees making decisions case by case reflected how complicated the issue is.
Rothman said he was waiting for the final decision, and that he was disturbed there was a leak that was intended to create a backlash to change the ruling. He said the leak showed that just like in Israel, when left-wing progressives in the US do not like a ruling, they suddenly stop saying how important is judicial activism.
“Looking at the abortion issue only as a matter of women’s rights to their bodies or only based on when a fetus is considered alive is mistaken,” he said. “Halacha gives complicated answers to this complicated issue.”