The Israeli government may start funding abortions for women aged 20 to 33 if recommendations recently made by a Health Ministry committee are enacted.
Israeli women under the age of 17 and over the ago of 40 already receive subsidized abortion services for personal reasons. Women also get almost automatic approval for an abortion if they are pregnant as a result of rape or incest, if the fetus has a birth defect, or if the pregnancy may endanger the woman's physical or mental well-being.
"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," said panel head Professor Yonatan Halevy.
The committee wanted to fund the procedure for all women but was limited by budgetary constraints.
Abortion is illegal in Israel, and women must appear before a government panel --consisting of two physicians and a social worker, one of whom must be a woman -- to gain approval for the procedure. However, there is a wide range of exceptions for women seeking abortions, and 98 percent of cases that come before the panel are approved.