Despite the Israeli obsession with having "the perfect baby", studies show a fear of birth defects is not the leading cause for abortion in Israel.
Over 50% of terminated pregnancies are a result of out-of-wedlock conception, incest or conception under illegal circumstances (such as rape, statutory rape), a Health Ministry report published on Tuesday stated.
The rate of abortions prompted by fetal defects remained steady since the mid 1990s, and between the years 2000 to 2007 a 4% drop in the number of women terminating pregnancies for this reason has been recorded.
The report covered 19,500 cases of abortion that took place in Israel in 2007. Data showed that 55% of abortions were a result of incest, illegal relations or out-of-wedlock conception.
A health risk to the mother and physical defects to the fetus were equally significant reasons for abortion, with each constituting the grounds for 18% of pregnancy terminations.
The mother's age, either below 17 or above 40, was a factor in less than a tenth of abortions in 2007.
Over half of the abortions (58%) were performed in the period up to the seventh week of pregnancy. A third took place between the eighth and twelfth week, and a tenth of terminations were carried out past the thirteenth week of pregnancy, after the first trimester had ended.
Termination of more advanced pregnancies was rare in 2007, with 245 abortions after the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy being approved, making up about 1% of all abortions.
Forty percent of abortions were performed in private medical centers. Only 10 abortions took place in private ultra-Orthodox hospitals in 2007, due to defects that endangered the fetus or the mother.
About one quarter of pregnancy terminations in Israel were performed using the "abortion pill" Mifepristone, taken in the early stages of pregnancy, up to week seven.
In 2007, 20,900 women appealed to pregnancy termination committees in hospitals throughout Israel, and 19,544 requests for abortion were granted.
Last year's overall abortion rate was the lowest in Israel since the early 1990s, and the Israeli abortion rate is, after Greece, the lowest of all European Union nations, with a rate of 133.8 for every thousand births, compared to the EU's average of 246 per 1,000 births.