Pro-life org lobbies Israeli govt over staggering abortion costs

Sandy Shoshani (r), Director of Be'ad Chaim (Photo: Facebook)

An Israeli pro-life organization is urging the government to stop funding millions of dollars worth of abortions ahead of next year’s budget allocations — and is calling on believers to pray for a positive response to its campaign.

Be’ad Chaim (which means pro-life in Hebrew) sent a letter earlier this month to ministers and officials involved in allocating the Ministry of Health’s budget, probably coming to a final decision today or tomorrow.

“Since hearing the report about a 40 million shekel reduction in the Ministry of Health budget, I found it a good opportunity to call your attention to a subject that has been breaking (dear to) my heart for the last several years,” Be’ad Chaim Director Sandy Shoshani wrote in an official letter sent to government officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Approximately 20,000 legal abortions were performed in Israel this year at a cost of between 1,800 to 3,100 shekels each depending on the method of abortion. On average we are talking about a sum of 49 million shekels a year which is 11 percent of the Ministry of Health’s budget.”

And all of these are funded by taxpayers. The estimated cost is approximately 3,000 shekels for a surgical abortion and between 1,400-1,800 shekels for a pill that terminates the pregnancy. That come to almost $13 million on state-funded abortions every year.

“We know we cannot stop abortion in Israel, but what we are asking is that the government wouldn’t pay for every single one,” Karin Miller, Be’ad Chaim project manager, told KNI. “We are urging them to require women who want an abortion to, under certain circumstances, pay for it themselves so it doesn’t come from the Ministry of Health budget.”

If that were the case, Miller said, the number of abortions in Israel would likely go down.

By law, female soldiers serving in the IDF get up to two free abortions, and women under 18, over 40 and single women are also eligible. But more than half of the women who were approved for an abortion last year didn’t fall into those categories. In fact 56 percent were married.

“It’s not clear to us why the state would fund such a high percentage of married women,” Shoshani wrote. “We are not talking about minors or single mothers, but married women who simply find it inconvenient to have another child.”

In Israel, any woman who wants to get an abortion must present her case to a committee under the auspices of the Ministry of Health. Last year the committee approved 99 percent of those requesting to terminate their pregnancy, all of these then subsidized by the government.

In response, a social worker who sits on the committee, defended its decisions and told Be’ad Chaim they are not taken lightly.

Nevertheless, Be’ad Chaim is encouraging the government, if it won’t ban abortion outright, at least make it harder to get one.

“Look, if you want to buy a new smartphone, for example, let’s say it will cost you 2,000 shekels or more. You would do the maximum you need to in order to buy the one you want,” Miller said. “Likewise, If you really don’t want this child, let them do the maximum to get the money for an abortion and not rely on the government to pay for it.”

While Israel spends millions on abortions, Be’ad Chaim points out that the nation’s hospitals are overcrowded and people with complicated diseases don’t get approval from their insurance for their medical prescriptions.

Freeing up some money in the Ministry of Health’s budget could alleviate these other needs.

While Be’ad Chaim lobbies the government to consider making changes on this issue, the organization works hard to support women who decide to keep their babies. They provide mothers with financial assistance for a full year after the baby is born, baby equipment, formula, diapers and clothes.

The organization also offers free parenting and childcare courses and partners with shelters for pregnant women whose lives are in danger because they became pregnant.

The Israeli government gives the official number of abortions as one in every 10 births.