Members of Knesset react to US Supreme Court reversal on abortion rights

Although abortion is not considered one of the classic issues of religion and state in Israeli discourse, it was the subject of Knesset debates and legislation in the late 1970s. A 1977 law created three-person panels with the power to authorize abortions, which was somewhat restricted only two years later due to influence from the ultra-Orthodox Poalei Agudat Yisrael within the new Likud-led coalition.

The decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Dobbs v. Jackson to overturn Roe v. Wade sparked a flurry of comments in Israel by government ministers and members of Knesset, some of which touch upon the general relationship between religion and state.

Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz):

The banning of abortions is an unenlightened move. Voiding the right of a woman over her body, the suppression of women, and going back one hundred years. This is one of the consequences of the historic mishap named Trump. Here, the situation is different and even improving. As Minister of Health, I am working so that the regulations in Israel respect women and strengthen her basic right regarding her own body.

Minister of the Economy and Industry Orna Barbivay (Yesh Atid)

In the largest democracy in the world, they say that women are not allowed to have abortions. Now we must make certain that supporters of the idea in Israel do not get any dangerous inspiration.

Minister of Energy and Water Resources Karine Elharrar (Yesh Atid):

The decision to ban abortions will roll back years of progress in the struggle for women’s rights.

Galit Distel Atbaryan (Likud):

Does anyone here know the status of abortion in Sharia law? I’m asking because the natural partners of the a liberal Lapid government (like Waleed Taha, Mazen Ghanaim, and Mansour Abbas) would vote on those issues only according to Sharia law as interpreted by the Muslim Brotherhood.

So where does that leave women’s rights in Israel, in your opinion?

Efrat Rayten Marom (Labor)

The American Supreme Court has canceled the constitutional right of women to have abortions. The USA is a liberal democracy, right? It could happen here, too, in Israel. We do not have the privilege of giving up.

Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism):

It turns out that the court returning power to elected officials irritates the American left.

The issue doesn’t matter. There, it is abortion and education. Here, it is security and Judaism. The left is afraid that the people will decide. A sense of disgust and fear regarding democracy characterizes the left on both sides of the ocean. 

It took them fifty years. We will fix it quicker, with God’s help.

Inbar Bezek (Yesh Atid):

Even in the leading democracies of the world, when the wrong people take control, fundamental rights are harmed. Today, the right that was harmed was the basic right of women regarding their bodies.

We must ensure that these dark forces do not take control in Israel. It is closer than ever.

Yoav Kisch (Likud):

The entire left is up in arms about the Supreme Court decision in the United States. The media is asking: “Could such a thing happen in Israel?”

The Israeli Supreme Court has been acting just like that for years. The Supreme Court does it from the “correct” side, from the left, so it does not bother them in Israel.

Naama Lazimi (Labor)

The situation in which the state makes decisions regarding abortion creates a situation in which it is known which states will not allow abortion except for cases of incest. Which also means that abortion in those state will be a privilege based on economic status and class. Poor women will not be able to choose.

If that is not disturbing enough, let’s dwell for a moment on the issue of abortion as a result of rape. It is true that this is an extreme case, and every woman, regardless of how she became pregnant, must have rights over her own body and life. 

This is coercing a women to live alongside her rapist– parental rights over the child, a court case about custody, proof of rape, and more. This too brings us back to the results of money and economic potential. 

This is absolutely horrible, and a harsh backlash against the “me too” wave. And most of all, it is the suppression of poor women and exclusion.

In solidarity with the women of America who were abandoned yesterday. Sad and awful.

Gaby Lasky (Meretz):

The decision of the Supreme Court in the USA to cancel the right to an abortion as a constitutional right is a serious blow to women’s rights.
[In English:] Standing with my sisters all over the USA. Fight for your rights!

Gilad Kariv (Labor):

A harsh reminder that human rights in general and women’s rights in particular are not a given, even after years of accomplishment and progress. Religious fundamentalism is at the peak of its terrifying struggle against the liberal worldview. We must not fall asleep on guard, we must not treat this lightly, we must not despair nor give up.