NCJW Deeply Disturbed by Move to Restrict Abortion in Israel
June 20, 2012, New York, NY — The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) today expressed its deep concern at the attempt by the Sephardi Orthodox party Shas to make abortion illegal in Israel after the 22nd week of pregnancy unless the mother’s health is endangered or the fetus is severely deformed and unlikely to survive. NCJW CEO Nancy K. Kaufman released the following statement:
“NCJW is alarmed that Shas leader Nissim Zeev is pushing a bill in the Knesset to ban abortions at 22 weeks of pregnancy except in very narrow circumstances. His effort comes at a time when so many American Jews and Israelis have expressed their deep frustration with the efforts to institute gender segregation in public spaces and otherwise limit women’s participation in civic and religious life. Zeev’s proposal, now buried in a committee, has hardly any public support, but given the nature of parliamentary coalition politics, it could be unearthed at any time. NCJW has long supported access to abortion services in the US, Israel, and other countries and opposes any attempt to impose a particular religious view about abortion through public policy or law.
“The move by the Sephardi Orthodox Shas Party injects anti-abortion politics into Israel’s political debates for the first time in many years. Currently, a practical compromise has given control of publically funded abortions to a committee that must approve each one, but with the understanding that approval will not be withheld in the normal course of events. Privately funded abortions are legal in Israel. We view the Shas proposal as offensive and an affront to the rights of women to make personal decisions about their reproductive lives based on their own religious beliefs and consciences. NCJW has long supported and partnered with Israeli organizations working to uphold and improve the status of women. Certainly, restricting women’s reproductive choices would threaten women’s equality. We call upon political leaders in Israel and American Jewish supporters to denounce this effort and express their solidarity with Israeli women’s reproductive freedom.”
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms.
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