JERUSALEM, January 31, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) - After a series of back and forth accusations and denials among government agencies, the Israeli Health Ministry has for the first time acknowledged that it has been injecting Ethiopian immigrants who are religiously Jewish with the dangerous contraceptive Depo-Provera without their consent.

The allegation that the women were coerced into accepting the shot was denied at first by both the Joint Distribution Committee, which runs the clinics at the transit camps, and by the Health Ministry. The practice has been said to be going on for years. 

Ethiopian Jews accounted for 57 percent of Depo-Provera users in Israel, although they constitute a miniscule percentage of the population. 

According to a Haaretz report, women in transit camps in Ethiopia waiting to emigrate to Israel were either told the birth control injection was mandatory, or that the injection was simply for immunization.

"We said we won't have the shot," one woman told the Israeli newspaper. "They told us, if you don't, you won't go to Israel. And also you won't be allowed into the Joint (American Joint Distribution Committee) office, you won't get aid or medical care."

"We were afraid," recounted Emawayish, who immigrated from Ethiopia eight years ago. "We didn't have a choice. Without them and their aid we couldn't leave there. So, we accepted the injection. It was only with their permission that we were allowed to leave."

“They told us they are inoculations,” said another women interviewed for the investigative report. “They told us people who frequently give birth suffer. We took it every three months. We said we didn’t want to.”

"We believe it is a method of reducing the number of births in a community that is black and mostly poor," Hedva Eyal, who wrote the report admitting the eugenic practice. In recent years, Israeli schools have denied Ethiopian children enrollment in schools, and the government has engaged in mass deportations of African immigrants, to preserve "the Jewish character of the state." Ethiopians also have more than three-times the poverty rate of other Israelis.  

The situation came to light following an investigative report aired in early December on the Israel Educational Television program "Vacuum."

The Jewish Agency, which is responsible for Jewish immigration from abroad, distanced itself from the accusations saying that "while the JA has never held family planning workshops for this group in Ethiopia or at immigrant absorption centers in Israel, the immigrant transit camp in Gondar, as the investigation noted, was previously operated by other agencies."

However, earlier this week, a letter from Health Ministry Director General Prof. Roni Gamzu instructed the health and immigration organizations to stop giving immigrant women the dangerous drug.

According to Haaretz, Gamzu’s letter instructs all gynecologists in the HMOs "not to renew prescriptions for Depo-Provera for women of Ethiopian origin if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”

Gamzu also told doctors they should have an interpreter on hand if a language problem arises.

Sharona Eliahu-Chai of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, who as a representative of several women’s rights and Ethiopian immigrants’ groups had demanded that the injections cease and that an investigation be launched, applauded Gamzu’s directive.

"Findings from investigations into the use of Depo-Provera are extremely worrisome, raising concerns of harmful health policies with racist implications in violation of medical ethics. The Ministry of Health’s director-general was right to act quickly and put forth new guidelines,” Eliahu-Chai said.

Depo-Provera has been at the forefront of foreign-funded birth control programs in the developing world.

Last year Melinda Gates, wife of billionaire tech mogul Bill Gates, said that she intends to spend billions of dollars on a global campaign to promote the use of artificial birth control, highlighting Depo-Provera as her abortifacient contraceptive of choice.

The hormonal contraceptive causes abortions by preventing implantation of the newly-conceived human life in the uterine wall.

Numerous studies have linked the controversial drug with bone loss (osteoporosis), increased risk of blood clots, breast cancer, cervical cancer, increased herpes susceptibility, heart disease, memory loss, and, by compromising a woman's immune system, increases the risk of infection from STDs, and contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS.