Dr. Eli Schussheim
Dr. Eli SchussheimEfrat Organization

Dr. Eli Schussheim, chairman of the NGO "Efrat," which gives assistance to Jewish women who don’t want to have abortions, appeared at a Knesset conference on Tuesday, where he argued in favor of a motion to abolish abortion committees in Israeli hospitals.

At the conference, held by the Knesset's Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, Schussheim retracted his previous support for the abortion committees, which were formulated to have doctors and social workers provide support and advice for women contemplating abortion.

"These committees were originally meant to help these women, however they have become ineffective and redundant. According to the Ministry of Health figures, 97% of those seen by the committee are given approval, irrespective of their individual situation," remarked Schussheim at the conference.

Schussheim charged the committee with becoming a rubber stamp procedure promoting abortion, saying "the doctors and social workers do not properly explain the medical and emotional risks of the abortion procedure. Also, those choosing to end their pregnancy because of financial concerns are not told that organizations exist to help them."

The doctor proposed three conditions be established to replace the committees.

The first step Schussheim proposed was to provide Ministry of Health literature on the medical and emotional risks of abortion, "like any other medical procedure of its severity."

In addition, Schussheim suggested a "mandatory cooling off period of 72 hours" to ensure that the potential mother has time to fully consider her options from a less emotionally intense frame of mind.

Finally, the doctor advised referring women to welfare organizations that exist to offer financial support in coping with the hardships of being a young and possibly single mother, if financial reasons are given for seeking the abortion.

Schussheim's own Efrat NGO is one such support organization, providing emotional and financial support leading up to and for until two years after the child's birth. Since 1977, the group has aided in over 56,000 births in the Jewish state.

Precedents of pro-abortion policy

In early January, Schussheim criticized the Health Basket Committee for deciding to include funding for free abortions in the provided health care basket, even without proof of any medical problem in the fetus.

"They are stealing 16 million shekels ($4.6 million) from sick people whose medicine saves and improves lives, and giving the money instead as a prize to 6,000 negligent women who didn't prevent the pregnancy they didn't want," charged Schussheim at the time.

Rabbi David Stav, head of the Tzohar organization, similarly criticized the health basket decision, saying "not only is the state allowing this at the expense of people who are truly ill… but the state is suggesting allocating resources for personal decisions, which are forbidden by Jewish law [halakha]."

"The state is saying, ‘I’m willing to fund abortions of children because it’s financially easier for you, and less willing to help diabetes patients.’ That’s immoral," leveled Rabbi Stav.