JERUSALEM — Israeli women between the ages of 20 and 33 will be eligible to receive government-funded abortions in 2014.
The new eligibility is part of the country’s state-subsidized basket of health services for 2014, approved on Dec. 30.
Currently, the government pays for abortions for all women in cases of medical emergencies, rape and sexual abuse. The government also pays for abortions by girls under the age of 18 or women over the age of 40 for any reason.
Some 6,300 women between ages 20 and 33 are expected to have abortions in Israel in 2014. All the women will still be required to receive the approval of a government panel before undergoing the procedure; however the panel approves nearly all cases. In 2003, for an example, 19,500 out of 19,700 requests for an abortion were approved, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. There are also a high number of illegal abortions  that reportedly occur in Israel every year.
The head of the health basket committee, Jonathan Halevy of Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, said the goal is eventually to raise the covered age to 40.
“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,” Halevy told a news 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.”
Contraception is not covered in the health basket.
The committee announced the approval of 83 new drugs and treatments for 2014. The basket still must be approved by the Ministry of Health and the Cabinet.
"Today, we are enriching the Israeli health care system with additional medicines and I am excited about it," Health Minister Yael German said at the news conference.