By Peter J. Smith
JERUSALEM, January 7, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Just weeks after Israel’s Chief Rabbis ruled that abortion constitutes "a grave sin," a new poll shows Israelis themselves are sharply divided over the nation’s liberal abortion laws.
Angus Reid Global Monitor reports that a new poll by the Mutagim Institute shows that 39 per cent of respondents think abortion, when necessary, is a legitimate medical procedure, 31 per cent regard it as an especially painful last resort, but 30 per cent say abortion is equivalent to murder.
However 32 per cent of respondents say that abortion is never justified, while 55 per cent would justify abortion only "if the fetus carried a grave illness." 21 per cent said they would advocate abortion if "pregnancy was unplanned" and 13 percent said "due to financial difficulties." Just 5 per cent said they favored sex-selective abortions.
The results show that Israelis are not comfortable with the nation’s very permissive abortion laws. Abortions in Israel are technically authorized by a special committee, but its approval of abortions in cases of rape, incest, adultery, if the woman is under 17 years of age or over 40, if it decides the woman’s health is at risk, or if the baby is suspected to have a physical or mental handicap almost guarantees abortion on demand.
However according to a presentation by Dr. Eli Schussheim, director of the anti-abortion organization Efrat, to Israel’s Chief Rabbis, only 20,000 out of Israel’s annual 50,000 abortions in fact fulfill the legal requirements. The Chief Rabbinate decided after ruling abortion "a grave sin" that it would establish a special committee to lobby to reduce the number of abortions carried out in Israel. (http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/jan/08010205.html)
The rabbis believe that abortions are delaying the coming of the Messiah, based on an expression uttered by the Jewish sages which can be construed as saying that the Messiah will not arrive until all children to be born to Jewish mothers are born.
Some Israeli lawmakers are beginning to take initial steps toward restricting abortion. In December, Israeli lawmaker Nissim Zeev of the International Organization of Torah-observant Sephardic Jews proposed outlawing abortion after the first 22 weeks of gestation.
"At 22 weeks, the foetus is alive. Terminating the pregnancy at that point constitutes murder and not an ‘abortion,’" Zeev said. "It is an unfounded claim that limiting abortions interferes with a woman’s freedom and right over her own body-we are talking about granting life."
See previous coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:
Chief Rabbis of Israel Rule Abortion "a Grave Sin"
People of Israel Sharply Divided Over Abortion
By Peter J. Smith
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