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Tipsheet

Israel Loosens Abortion Restrictions Following Roe v. Wade Overturn

AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

Lawmakers in Israel voted this week to ease restrictions on access to abortion pills. The move comes days after the United States Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade

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The Washington Post reported this week that the new policy will allow women to access abortion pills without appearing before a committee and getting approval to end the pregnancy. 

The new policy, approved on Monday by an overwhelming majority in the parliamentary committee, will grant women access to abortion pills through Israel’s universal health system and will exempt women from appearing before a special committee, whose approval has been required for decades for the termination of a pregnancy.

The committee, made up of a social worker and two doctors, will not be abolished, but it will review applications digitally and only conduct hearings in the very rare case it initially denies the procedure. The changes will take effect over the next three months.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Israel’s small left-wing Meretz party, said on Monday that the U.S. decision overturning Roe v. Wade violated the basic human rights of women and this reform would ensure that Israel would not follow in its steps.

“The move by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny a woman the right to her body is a dark move,” Horowitz said in a statement. “We are somewhere else, and we are making great strides in the right direction today.”

The Post added that Israel's abortion law, enacted in 1977, stipulates four criteria for a woman to terminate a pregnancy. This includes if the woman is under 18 or over 40, if the fetus' life is in danger, if the pregnancy resulted from rape, incest or an extramarital affair and if the woman's mental or physical health is at risk. Almost all, 98 percent, of women who apply for an abortion receive one. 

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The United States Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization resulted in the overturning of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The case surrounded a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. Now, the issue of abortion is returned to the states to create their own laws to protect the unborn. 

After Friday's ruling, President Biden issued remarks from the White House where he vowed to protect women's access to abortion pills. 

In his remarks, Biden slammed the Court's ruling as a "tragic error" and called it "a sad day for the country." He claimed that Roe "recognized the fundamental right to privacy." 

"It doesn't mean the fight's over," the president stated. "My administration will also protect a woman's access to medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA. Like contraception, which is essential for preventative health care. Mifepristone, which the FDA approved 20 years ago to safely end early pregnancies and is commonly used to treat miscarriages." 

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