Israeli Pro-Life Org Under Fire
When volunteer policemen from Beit Shemesh shot 18 year old Raz Attias dead, it set off a fierce debate about the Israeli pro-life organisation, Efrat.
Attias and his girl-friend, known as “Z”, had entered into a suicide pact, they sent a last message to Channel Two TV, and headed for the woods around Jerusalem, armed with a pistol.
The police worked out the cellphone coordinates, and intercepted the double-suicide. Attias shot towards the approaching police, and was shot dead in response.
The girlfriend, Z, apparently explained that she was pregnant, and that she had been dissuaded from aborting her foetus by women in the hospital, apparently linked to Efrat. The couple became desperate and decided to jointly commit suicide.
Z’s family took an aggressive stand against Efrat in the media, accusing Efrat of brainwashing Z into going through with the unwanted pregnancy.
Efrat denied that the people who had purportedly spoken with Z at the hospital were from their formal staff or volunteers of Efrat. They surmised that perhaps they were among the 54,000 past clients from Efrat, who often act as advocates for pro-life.
I subsequently heard an interview on Army Radio with “Shira”, a client of Efrat, who had decided not to abort her child. Shira explained how, when she visited Efrat’s offices two years ago, at the age of 19, single and pregnant, they had shown her an emotional movie about the development of babies, the effects of abortions, and loads of pictures of smiling babies and children with happy mothers.
Shira also says she was “brainwashed”, and she told how the staff there had referred to abortion as “murder” and used other manipulative language.
The bottom line was that she was offered nappies/diapers, baby feed and other provisions for two years, if she would keep the baby. According to Shira, Efrat delivered on their promise, but she now regrets keeping her baby, due to “lifestyle changes” she was required to undergo. Shira said she is considering putting her baby up for adoption.
Joining in the outcry against Efrat, feminist MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) accused Efrat of "taking upon itself the role of G-d….The hospital and the Ministry of Health allowed the girl to fall prey to missionary elements.”
Whereas the pro-life vs pro-choice debate has raged very publicly in the
for four decades, it is a marginal issue in Israeli politics.
girls up to 19 years old, are entitled to an abortion, paid for by the State, on
an (almost) ask-no-questions basis; it does not require the involvement of the
girl’s parents, nor any medical justification.
The system itself is largely seen as “pro-choice” or even “pro-abortion”, particularly for pregnant teenagers, such as Z.
Efrat therefore sees itself as being the sole voice advocating for the foetus/baby.
In fairness to Efrat, they should not be “blamed” for the tragic impact of a girl not aborting, when the pro-life message was delivered by women who are not acting on behalf of the organisation – to a young girl who was, judging by the subsequent events, emotionally unstable.
And in the case of “Shira”, who did walk through the front doors of Efrat, she admitted in her radio interview that Efrat had offered her (free) counselling services, which she had not utilised. Perhaps Shira’s disappointment with motherhood could have been addressed with the intervention of a professional therapist.
Ultimately, the Attias shooting tragedy was not caused by Efrat – or even by the unofficial Efrat advocates – but by a young couple who entered into an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy.