Accusations of anti-religious prejudice have been raised at the Maccabi health center in Bnei Brak, IDF Radio reports Tuesday, after multiple women told the news agency that one particular doctor has mistreated them based on their background.
Tzila (not her real name) alleged that she was humiliated multiple times at her OB/GYN's office in the city, and that it was so bad that she refused to return for follow-up after the birth of her second child.
When she eventually returned during the fourth month of her next pregnancy, she said she refused to undergo one of the tests for personal reasons - and the doctor "punished" her, in her words, as a result.
"As I lay on the bed, my stomach was exposed and she was standing over me to check on ultrasound, I felt as low as possible - all the power was in her hands, she was able to say whatever she wanted," Tzila recounted. "I already felt chained."
The doctor told her that, for refusing to undergo the exam, Tzila would be told the sex of her fetus against her will.
Testimony from other Orthodox women at the clinic, including Tzila's friends, allegedly supports the claim of prejudice. Many have said that the doctor claims it is her right to dictate proceedings because - as is custom in the hareidi world - their husbands are not present during the ultrasounds.
"The doctor's attitude is that she is 'rescuing us from our husbands,' because they 'impose' on us births and pregnancies," another woman stated to the news agency. Many in hareidi circles discourage the use of contraceptives.
She added that most women remain silent over the treatment.
Tzila, by contrast, took her story to the press - and wrote letters to Maccabi and the Ministry of Health. "We must do everything to change the attitude they approach us with," she urged.
But according to Maccabi, the accusations are false.
"We're sorry for the way in which the patient experienced the exam," it responded. "The physician rejects out of hand the remarks attributed to her."
"This is a very well-established doctor who has treated dozens of high-risk pregnancy patients daily, and she has not received a single complaint in years," the HMO added. "If the complainant wants to go through a different doctor or gynecologist, we will help her find one. We wish her a healthy pregnancy and an easy birth."