Israel has eased regulations on abortion access in what the government said was a direct response to the United States overturning Roe v. Wade.
The new rules were approved by a parliamentary committee. They now grant women access to abortion pills through the universal health care system, and they also remove longstanding requirements that women need to appear physically before a special committee before being allowed to get an abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court stripped away women’s constitutional protections for abortion on Friday, sending the rest of the world reeling from the decision. Roe v. Wade existed in the U.S. for nearly half a century. The decision triggered mass nationwide protests, and set the state for waves of litigation in America.
Israeli Health Minster Nitzan Horowitz said the U.S. decision had turned back the clock for women’s rights.
“A woman has a complete right over her body,” Horowitz said. “The SCOTUS decision to negate a woman’s right to make a choice over her own body is a sad process of women’s repression, setting the leader of the free and liberal world 100 years back.”
In Israel, abortion is widely available. It is far less controversial in Israel than it is in America. However, women in Israel did not automatically have a right to the procedure.
Under the new rules, women in Israel now have access to abortion pills at their local health clinics.
Women in Israel also will no longer need to physically appear before a committee to approve an abortion. The application form for that will be shortened and simpler.
Abortion approval committees have long faced criticism. Most requests are approved, but women then first objected to bureaucracy and a humiliating process. They can also face long wait times before actually getting in front of a committee.
Now the process will be digitized. And a prior requirement to see a social worker will become optional.
The new rules come into effect in three months.