Israel will begin paying for abortions for women ages 22 to 33, regardless of reason. The new rule is an expansion on Israel’s current state-sponsored health care policy of subsidizing abortions in extreme circumstances.
The change comes with next year’s health basket, Israel’s state-subsidized health care program. The government formerly provided funding for abortions for women of all ages in the cases of medical emergencies, rape or sexual abuse.
The new policy will provide funding for 6,300 more procedures next year than with the current “basket,” at a cost of about 16 million shekels ($4.6 million).
Health officials said that they would like to make the funding available to women of all ages, not just younger women.
“It was brought to our attention that there is a large group of women between 20 and 40 who for various reasons — financial or reasons of secrecy — do not terminate pregnancies,” professor Jonathan Halevy, head of the health basket committee, said at a press conference.
“In the current basket we’ve approved funding for pregnancy termination for women in the 20-to-33 age group, with the intention of completing the process ... and raising the age to 40.”
Despite the expansion, women will still have to appear before a state committee before having an abortion.
Halevy also said the committee would like to provide birth control for Israeli citizens, but that the cost would be too high.
“The private expense for birth control pills is low, but when we’re talking about financing for the entire population, that’s a hefty sum,” he said.
The health basket committee also recommended that the Treasury add drugs for conditions that impact a high number of patients, including schizophrenia, osteoporosis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), cancers and others.
The National Health Council will receive the committee’s recommendations Wednesday, and then the cabinet will formally approve them on Sunday.
“The expansion of the basket for 2014 gives a voice to groups who have not been heard in the past,” said Halevy, adding that it includes livesaving drugs for all conditions across all medical specialties.
“I am proud as an Israeli citizen of this expanded basket, and there is no precedent for it among Western countries,” Halevy said.