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Stud Fam Plann. 1992 Jul-Aug;23(4):268-73.

Estimates of demand for abortion among Soviet immigrants in Israel.

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School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.


In 1990, more than 185,000 Soviet Jews emigrated to Israel, increasing Israel's population by 4 percent; 148,000 more arrived in 1991. Given the fertility and abortion patterns prevailing among Soviet women in their native country, this article inquires about the short-range expected increase in abortion demand in Israel engendered by this large migratory inflow. Estimation techniques based on the abortion experience of an earlier wave of Soviet-born immigrants in Israel reveal that the increase in requests for abortion brought about by the 1990 immigrants may reach up to 14 percent, and as high as 24 percent for the combined immigration waves of 1990 and 1991. The expanded demand for abortions in Israel engendered by the new Soviet immigrants necessitates an expansion of both family planning services and of the medical committees entitled to grant a legal abortion. A failure in these fields would benefit illegal abortion.


Due to systemic contraceptive supply and structural shortcomings in the former Soviet health care system, abortion has been overly employed by Soviet women to prevent births. Estimates suggest that the average Soviet woman may have 3-5 abortions over the course of her life. 185,000 and 148,000 Soviet Jews immigrated to Israel in 1990 and 1991, respectively. An increased demand for abortion is expected to accompany these immigrants. In Israel, however, certain criteria must be met before legal abortion may be granted. Abortion is legal only when a woman is under age 17 or 40 years or older; pregnancy was caused by rape or incest; pregnancy occurred out-of-wedlock; mental or physical malformations are suspected in the fetus; or the continuation of pregnancy may endanger the woman's health or life. Medical committees based at 28 public and private hospitals are charged with authorizing or refusing abortion in Israel. 2000-5000 illegal abortions are estimated to have taken place over the 1980s, mainly performed upon healthy, married women in their late 20s and 30s. Estimation technics based on the abortion experience of an earlier wave of Soviet-born immigrants in Israel were used to estimate the expected increase in abortion requests resulting from the inflow of immigrants. The 1990 wave may increase demand by 14%, while the waves together may fuel a 24% increase. Family planning services and review committees must be increased in Israel to accommodate increased demand. In the absence of such steps, the number of illegal abortions will increase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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