Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud), a Druze Israeli, declared his intention to do whatever he could to assist the pro-life Efrat organization. He made the commitment following a personal tour of the organization's Jerusalem facilities on Sunday.
"I cannot believe what I see here," Kara enthusiastically said after hearing about Efrat and its activities combating what the organization sees as unnecessary abortions. "There is no other organization of this high caliber in the country. They are literally saving lives here and, in that, assisting the nation in confronting the demographic problem," he added.
"I will assist you in every possible way that I can," Kara told Efrat Chairman Dr. Eli Schussheim. "You will yet hear from me. The whole country needs to know about the great and unbelievable thing that you are doing. I am really moved by what I see here."
Efrat was established in 1977 by Dr. Schussheim, an Argentinian immigrant who served as senior surgeon in Jerusalem's Shaarei Tzedek Hospital during the Six Day War. The organization provides information on abortion that might not otherwise be seen by pregnant women, as well as financial and emotional assistance to expecting mothers who are considering terminating their pregnancies for reasons other than medical necessity.
In his presentation to Deputy Minister Kara, Dr. Shussheim discussed the database of over 4,000 Israeli women currently receiving financial aid from Efrat. The meaning of that figure, Shussheim said, is that the organization is saving the lives of over 4,000 children annually by means of economic assistance alone.
Dr. Shussheim explained that the preponderance of evidence collected by Efrat has "led us to the conclusion that most mothers who have voluntary abortions do so out of a passing anxiety and not out of a complete awareness of the full meaning of what it means to abort."
The position of Jewish law in the matter of abortion is that it is generally forbidden. An exception to the rule is any situation in which preserving the life of the mother mandates a medical abortion. Nonetheless, over 40,000
The formal position on abortion in the Druze community, to which Deputy Minister Kara belongs, it that the procedure is forbidden as a form of retroactive birth control. However, there has not been an explicit and universal decision to rule out abortion to save the life of the mother. According to 2005 statistics, in fact, Druze women were among the least likely to request a voluntary termination of their pregnancies.
The rate of abortion requests nationally per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 49 was 11.2 in 2005. Among Muslim women, the figure was 5.7 and among Druze, 6.4. The highest rate was recorded among women whose religion was unrecorded - mostly referring to non-Jewish women immigrants from the former Soviet Union - with 21.8 abortion applications per 1,000 women. Christian citizens of Israeli requested abortions at a rate of 14.1 out of 1,000 women. The Jewish rate stood at 12.3 per 1,000 women in 2005.