The Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs on Monday rejected a private bill proposed by Knesset Member Nissim Zeev (Shas) prohibiting abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy, and implementing a change in the current law which allows abortions during later stages of the pregnancy.
In his commentary on the bill to amend the penal law on abortions, MK Zeev wrote: "At 22 weeks the fetus is alive and termination of the pregnancy is murder of the fetus and not 'abortion'. This is why the claim that prevention of abortion is interfering in a woman's rights to her body cannot justify the termination of the pregnancy at this stage".
According to the MK, termination of a fetus at this stage is "executed in a cruel manner by putting the fetus to death via injection, causing the fetus to endure a great deal of pain.
"Putting live fetuses to death, when scientific and technological progress means that their lives could be saved outside the uterus, is an immoral and unjustified act in spite of the collision with the right a woman has to her body."
In the rejected bill, Zeev claimed that according to the existing law, the committee for pregnancy terminations is given the almost unrestricted authority over the decision to put an end to fetuses' lives.
According to figures he presented, over 20,000 legal abortions are carried out in Israel every year, with double that number being performed privately or illegally. So that according to unofficial estimates, around 80,000 abortions are carried out in Israel every year.
Health Ministry employee reprimanded
During the meeting, Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) reprimanded a ministry employee who presented a position which was in complete opposition to his own policy. He made it clear that she would not be invited to future meetings.
Litzman's policies enraged ministers present at the meeting who stressed that Litzman is only deputy health minister, and that the acting minister was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Shas Ministers Meshulam Nahari and Yakov Margi voted in favor of the bill, the rest of the ministers opposed. Litzman has no voting rights as he is not a minister.
The committee chairman, Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman, rebuked Litzman for preventing a Health Ministry employee from presenting an opinion he disapproved of.
"I have allowed ministry employees to present opinions that differ from my own on numerous occasions. I will appeal to the attorney general over the fundamental question of whether a government official is allowed to express an opinion that is contradictory to that of the minister" said Ne'eman to his committee colleagues. An angry Litzman responded: "This isn't the case".
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