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Abortion

NYT Op-Ed Takes Us Inside Israel’s ‘Abortion Committee’

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The conversation surrounding abortion changes radically depending on the country you’re in, but one thing always remains the same: it’s controversial. It is an area where religion and politics unfortunately collide, and is a generally polarizing subject. In the U.S., abortion laws vary state to state, but under the parameters of Roe vs. Wade. In Israel, however, abortions are controlled by their “federal” government, and each individual case must be brought before a committee.

As absurd as that notion might sound, Israel’s across-the-board prerequisites for permitting abortions are so general, it’s actually probably easier to get an abortion there than it is in some of our more conservative states. If you’re unmarried, that is.

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Mairav Zonszein shared her experience having her abortion approved by such a committee.

She wrote:

“Each committee includes a social worker and two doctors. The law stipulates four criteria, any of which is sufficient for approval: If the woman is below 18 or over 40; if the fetus is in danger; if the mother’s mental or physical health is at risk; or if the pregnancy occurs out of wedlock or is the result of rape or incest.

I am 33 and free of medical issues. But because my partner and I are not legally married, I felt some relief knowing that I had a clear ticket out. Still, I balked at the realization that I had to request permission.”

So to review, In Israel, you have to have your abortion approved by four people who don’t know you or anything about your situation other than the basics–and that’s less strict than several U.S. states’ current or proposed abortion legislation. Interesting. But still infuriating.

READ: My Jewish Abortion

I’m not going to tip-toe around my stance about abortion here, because I truly believe that my view is the only one that makes any logical sense. In my opinion, it is embarrassing that any country believes it has the right to decide when a woman will give birth or not give birth. It is embarrassing that we don’t trust women to decide what is right for them and their families. And it is deeply, deeply embarrassing that after basically forcing women to give birth, the U.S. is one of TWO countries in the entire goddamn world that doesn’t have federally mandated maternity leave.

At least Israel, who basically makes pregnant women go through an equivalent of “American Idol” before getting an abortion, affords them some support before they return to work–should they deny them the procedure.

(Oh and for the record, if the committee does forbid you from having an abortion, there are plenty of private healthcare providers who will break the law and give you a ramshackle abortion for a good enough price. Sound familiar, America?)

I’m sure several people who are reading this are already down in the comments, shaming me for being a radical feminist nut job because I believe that women deserve autonomy when it comes to their own organs. And that’s fine, because you’re entitled to your opinion, even if you’re wrong.

The crux my argument is this: We really need to have a conversation as a country, and a world, about how we treat women’s reproductive rights. And getting an eyeful of what it’s like in a country that we consider to be as modern or close enough to our own only proves that further.

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