Israel Parliament Debates Bill to Ban Abortions at 22 Weeks of Pregnancy

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 27, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Israel Parliament Debates Bill to Ban Abortions at 22 Weeks of Pregnancy Email this article
Printer friendly page

RSS Newsfeed

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 27
, 2008

Jerusalem, Israel ( — The Israel Parliament is debating a bill that would ban late-term abortions starting at 22 weeks of pregnancy and beyond. The ban is the first attempt to limit abortions after the chief rabbinic council in Israel released a new opinion about abortion confirming it constitutes a “grave sin."

The Knesset held a discussion Wednesday on the legislation, brought by Shas MK Nissim Zeev, and it will receive a preliminary hearing next week.

"What goes on in Israel amounts to lawlessness. Fetuses are being murdered on a daily basis," MK Zeev said during the debate, according to a YNet report.

"When a fetus is 22 weeks-old this is no longer an abortion, it’s premeditated murder… the fetus cannot cry out," he added. "Therefore, the stance that preventing an abortion constitutes interference with the woman’s freedom of choice and her right over her body is unfounded."

The bill prohibits all late-term abortions unless two physicians certify that an abortion is necessary to save the mother’s life.

YNet indicated Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann says the ruling government opposes the bill.

"Various legal systems, including Jewish law, offer different solutions to the issue of terminating a pregnancy," Friedmann said. "We could not find one judicial system that supports the proposed stance, nor find other arguments that lead to the conclusion that the current law should be amended."

However, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger issued a December opinion saying abortions for socioeconomic reasons or the mother not wanting the baby are wrong.

Metzger said, "The vast majority of abortions are unnecessary and strictly forbidden according to halacha because they are carried out even when the pregnancies do not endanger the mother’s health."

He and other leaders said abortions are delaying the coming of the Messiah, who Jews believe was not represented by Jesus Christ.

Jews typically believe that the Messiah will not come until all of the children who could be born to Jewish mothers are born.

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger — two leading Jewish figures in the nation — both supported the council’s decision.

The Rabbinic Council of Chief Rabbinate also said it would establish a new committee that would examine methods of reducing abortions in Israel.

"Why should Israel be such a backwards nation compared to other countries? And we call ourselves enlightened," Zeev concluded in his presentation to the parliament.

About 50,000 abortions happen in the middle eastern nation annually and about 20,000 of them are done within the confines of current law.