Both Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger supported the Rabbinical Council's decision.
The council made the decision after Dr. Eli Schussheim, director of the anti-abortion organization Efrat, presented the rabbis with facts and figures on the amount of abortions carried out in Israel yearly.
According to Dr. Schussheim, 50,000 abortions occur in Israel every year, only 20,000 of which are legally performed.
The Rabbinic Council, which is made up of the Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Rabbi Shaar-Yeshuv Cohen, the Chief Rabbi of Rehovot, Rabbi Simcha HaCohen Kook and Beersheba’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yehuda Deri, has decided to have the new committee begin work this coming Saturday.
"The vast majority of abortions are unnecessary and strictly forbidden according to halacha because they are carried out even when the pregnancies do not endanger the mother's health," the rabbis wrote in their decision.
The rabbis believe that these types of abortions are a grave sin which may even delay the coming of the messiah. They base this assumption on an expression uttered by the Jewish sages which can be construed as signifying that the messiah will not arrive until all souls meant to be born to Jewish mothers are in fact born.
The halachic basis for the rabbis anti-abortion position is articulated in Genesis 9:6 which reads: "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."
The rabbis see fetuses as constituting a "man" based on a Gemara passage which states that a fetus in its mother's womb should already be considered a human being.