Abortions down in Israel

With abortion clinics in the United States closing at a record pace, abortions in Israel continue to drop sharply.

Hillel Fendel ,

Ultrasound (illustration)
Ultrasound (illustration)
Nati Shohat /Flash90

Health Ministry stats show that Israel's abortion rate is among the lowest in the world, yet still exacts a high price.

In 2014, a total of 19,467 legal abortions were performed in Israel, or 93.3% of those that were requested.

In 1990, only 81.1% of requested abortions were performed – but, given the population growth and the relatively-small increase in requests since then, the abortion numbers today are some 20% lower than then.

While in 1990 there were over 200 abortions per 1,000 live births, this number dropped to 150 in 2001, and as of 2014 stood at 110.

Only in Croatia, where abortion rates have plummeted to below 80 per 1,000 live births, is the rate lower than in Israel. Germany, for instance, has 150, Italy has 195, and approximately 250 in Spain and France. In Hungary, nearly 400 fetuses are aborted for every 1,000 live births, and in Russia – 550.

Most of the abortions in Israel – 61% - took place before the fetus was seven weeks old. This represents an increase from 48% in the year 2000. On the other hand, only 9% were aborted after 13 weeks in 2000, compared with 13% in 2014. Fewer than 1.5% - 278 fetuses - were aborted after 23 weeks.

The latest Health Ministry statistics show that 53% of pregnancies in Israel were stopped in 2014 because they were the result of legally forbidden relations or because the woman was not married. Nearly 20% were aborted because of likely danger to the woman, whether physical or emotional, and the same amount because of likely birth defects. The others were aborted because the woman was under age 17 or over age 40.

Russian immigrants (from the year 1990) are 1.7 times more likely to have an abortion than others, while those from Ethiopia (from the year 1980) are 4.5 times more likely.

In the United States, abortion access is vanishing faster than ever before. At least 162 abortion providers have shut or stopped offering the procedure since 2011, while only 21 new clinics opened. Some attribute the drop to Republican-led state legislatures that are passing laws restricting and generally making it more difficult to provide abortions.

The state of Texas lost 30 abortion clinics – the most in the country – ever since it enacted abortion-clinic restricting regulations in 2013. Even California, led by Democrats, lost 12 providers.

Overall, the abortion rate in the U.S. decreased 8% between 2000 and 2008, though it grew significantly among poor women. The rate continued to drop through 2011, from 1.21 million abortions in 2008 to 1.06 million. This followed a whopping seven-fold increase from 1970 through 1984, reaching a high of 365 abortions per 1,000 live births. The number now stands at 210.