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Pressure over Abortion Led to Police Shooting of Youth

Raz Atias and his girlfriend planned suicide after his parents demanded their baby be aborted.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/20/2012, 9:32 PM

Raz Atias
Raz Atias
Israel news photo: Flash 90

An 18-year-old boy, Raz Atias, was shot by police volunteers in a forest near Jerusalem on Thursday night, and subsequently died of his wounds, after he and his girlfriend threatened to kill themselves. It now turns out that the girl's pregnancy created a chain of events that led to the tragedy.

Police volunteers located the two in a forest near Beit Shemesh, after the young man sent a message to Channel 2 News saying that he and his girlfriend plan to commit suicide. When the two were located, the young man reportedly opened fire at the volunteers, who fired back. Atias was taken in critical condition to hospital, where he later died of his wounds.

A Friday evening Channel 2 news report insinuated that some of the blame for the tragedy is borne by Efrat, an organization that opposes abortions. The channel also quoted MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) as attacking Efrat over the tragedy, calling it "an irresponsible missionary organization."

According to the most recent details made available to the public, Raz's girlfriend, who is not being named, told him that she was pregnant. Atias's mother, Riki, told the television station that Raz informed her about the pregnancy, and that she and her husband insisted that the girlfriend have an abortion.

The mother said that women connected to Efrat shared the same room with the girlfriend in a hospital she had been admitted to because of stomach pains. They convinced the girlfriend not to have an abortion, she said. It was not clear what function these women filled in Efrat, if any, and why they were staying in the hospital room.

Raz and the girlfriend apparently could not handle the situation and decided to commit suicide together. They drove into the forest in a state of great distress, and the night ended with Raz's tragic death.

The girlfriend's mother told reporters Saturday night that she and her family have decided that the pregnancy should indeed be terminated. She said she did not know her daughter was pregnant and that she "could have solved the problem" if she had been notified. She said she does not blame Efrat and added: "Our relationshp with the Atias family has ended." 

Channel 2 said that it could not receive Efrat's reaction to the story.