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Birth defects, abortion and the quest for a perfect baby

TJI Pick
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Published: 17 June 2019

Last updated: 4 March 2024

when a defect has been discovered, Israelis choose to terminate pregnancies much more frequently than in other Western countries

IT WAS YAEL’S SECOND pregnancy. She had received a sperm donation and gave birth to her first child, a daughter, four years earlier, and went through the same procedure this time, too. All the tests were good but now, because she was 44, the single mother also underwent amniocentesis and paid 2,000 shekels ($550) for a CMA (“DNA chip”) test. The result indicated a problem in the fetus’ genetic sequence.

“The doctor talked about possible intellectual disability and autism, about delayed development and attention deficit problems,” recalls Yael, who lives in the center of the country. (Some of the names in this article have been changed to protect the interviewees’ privacy.)

“He showed me a list of all kinds of disabilities, which had a 30-percent probability of happening. That sounded very high. I cried but we reached the conclusion that it would be out of the question for me to give birth to a baby with disabilities. I am a single parent with limited resources. There was no way I could cope with that.”

From the outset, Yael’s physician painted a bleak picture. “Right off he talked about the reception hours of the pregnancy termination committee – because I was in an advanced stage we had to hurry.”

FULL STORY The abortion conundrum: how far Israelis go to make sure their babies are born perfect (Haaretz)

Illustration: Haaretz

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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