Until now, subsidized abortions for women of all ages were available only in medical emergencies or in cases of rape and sexual abuse; women under 20 or over 40 were also eligible even if the reason was personal, the newspaper noted.
The proposal must be approved by the country’s Health Ministry, and then by its cabinet. Even if approved, women would still have to go before a state committee before terminating a pregnancy, the newspaper reported.
According to Haaretz, the new rule would allow state-funded abortions for an additional 6,300 women next year, at a cost of about $4.6 million.
“It was brought to our attention that there is a large group of women between 20 and 40 who for various reasons – financial or reasons of secrecy – do not terminate pregnancies,” health committee head Jonathan Halevy said, the newspaper reported.
Contraceptives are not paid for by the government because “when we’re talking about financing for the entire population, that’s a hefty sum,” Halevy said.
Although ending a pregnancy is technically illegal in Israel, punishable by up to five years in prison, there are several exceptions under which abortion is permitted.
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By Cathy Burke