March 2019 – “Abortion is well accepted in Israel,” Sandy Shoshani told AFA Journal. “It’s an embarrassment – like having a nose job or a tummy tuck. But it’s legal. And it’s free.”
Shoshani was born in Boston, studied in Chicago where she came to faith, and has lived in Israel since 1979. She and her Israeli-born husband of 37 years are Messianic Jews with seven children and nine grandchildren.
Her husband is a pastor in Jerusalem, and she is the national director of Be’ad Chaim (meaning “pro-life” in Hebrew), a registered Israeli non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of mothers and unborn children since 1988.
Appropriately named, the organization has offices and hotlines throughout the nation to help women who are experiencing a crisis pregnancy – a common occurrence in Israel.
Israel differs from the U.S. in that no comprehensive “right” to abortion has been established through the courts. Rather, in each individual pregnancy case, the state decides whether it will permit – and pay for – an abortion.
“To maintain the status quo, Israel has committees that evaluate women as eligible for abortion,” explained Shoshani. “But it’s a rubber stamp. Literally 98.5% of those who apply for an abortion receive approval.”
Shroud of illegality
While abortion on demand is technically illegal in Israel, women may apply for government approval and receive tax-funded abortions.
“The only women who wouldn’t qualify are married women between 18 and 40 years old,” said Shoshani. “So they lie and say their marriage is falling apart, or they might say their mental health is not good.”
In addition to age, marital status, and/or physical and mental health of the mother, the committees also consider whether the pregnancy was conceived through rape or incest, or if the baby has a birth defect. In some cases, abortion is approved and funded up to the 40th week of pregnancy.
“Legal here just means the government pays for it” explained Shoshani. “The reason women choose to have private, illegal abortions is primarily for secrecy. Going through the committee is embarrassing. A woman seeking a legal abortion must state her case in front of a nurse, a social worker, and two doctors.
“The word illegal gives you the impression it’s a dark alley abortion. That’s not right. It’s just a doctor’s office. It is illegal, but no one cares.”
Since 1948, when Israel was reestablished as a nation, over two million babies have been aborted – more than the number of Jewish children who were killed in the Holocaust.
With few exceptions, national military service is mandatory for Israeli citizens over the age of 18. Women serving their two- or three-year term defending the lives of their fellow citizens often become pregnant. Yet the Israeli government pays to end the lives of their unborn babies during their service in the Israel Defense Forces.
According to the most recent figures provided by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, more than 19,000 babies were legally aborted in Israel in 2016. And most estimates show a similar number of undocumented abortions. Of approximately 220,000 pregnancies estimated in 2016, 18% ended in abortion, compared to the U.S. rate of 16% the same year.
“In the states, there is a public debate concerning abortion,” said Shoshani. “There is no debate here in Israel. Nobody talks about abortion.”
Although Be’ad Chaim received an award from the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, for outstanding service to women’s health in 2016, Shoshani has been unable to garner legislative support to fight abortion.
“I met with members of the Knesset numerous times thinking I would find a partner,” she said. “But I didn’t. They were happy we provide for women, that we give them intelligent information and the option of life, but nobody wants to take on the banner of ‘save the babies.’
“Right now, the blood is on our heads as a nation. If the government were not paying for abortions, we would have a lot fewer of them.”
Outpouring of mercy
The number of abortions has dropped by half in the U.S. and Israel over the past several decades. Pro-life pregnancy centers unquestionably contribute to the falling numbers.
Unlike most U.S. pregnancy resource centers, Be’ad Chaim does not provide pregnancy testing or ultrasounds. “We have national health insurance, so everything is free,” Shoshani explained. “The girls come in already knowing they are pregnant 99% of the time, and they usually come in with a picture of the ultrasound in hand. So there’s no need for medical care here.”
Women in a crisis pregnancy locate Be’ad Chaim through online searches and are connected with a hotline counselor who works to calm them and direct them to a nearby crisis pregnancy center.
“We are grace based,” said Shoshani. “Everything we do here is by love. We are saturated in prayer. We call every one of our counselors every Sunday. We get an update of who she has met and spoken to during the week. We send the prayer requests by e-mail to about 400 locations around the world every Monday so people can be praying. Of course we pray in the office as well. We have seen hearts change as a result of prayer.”
Clients who are adopted into Be’ad Chaim’s Operation Moses program are given everything needed for the baby – a bed, bathtub, bedsheets, stroller, etc. For a full year, moms receive monthly gift cards or vouchers to purchase items like diapers or other items for their babies.
To sustain Operation Moses, an $1,800 annual sponsorship program is funded primarily by Bible-believing individuals and churches around the world. Sponsors receive a certificate with the baby’s name and birthdate, as well as letters about the baby, mom, and family – usually with a photograph.
Many women who come to Be’ad Chaim have had one or multiple abortions. Such wounded women are offered the post-abortion Bible study Forgiven and Set Free.
“We also use a special tool called Gardens of Life,” said Shoshani. “It’s about four acres of land where the biblical Emmaus Road was located. We plant a tree for aborted and miscarried children, stillbirths, and other griefs.”
Shoshani described one woman who had clung to the blood-stained cloth that had touched her baby who died from a chemical abortion, keeping it under her pillow for years. When she buried the cloth in the ground and planted a tree over it, she received the Lord.
“It’s a wonderful place of healing for women, men, and their families,” she said.
Child sacrifice … then and now
Two millennia ago, Israel was exiled to Babylon because of its adultery with idols and sacrifice of its own children (Ezekiel 23).
According to research released in July 2013 by the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archeology at Bar-Ilan University, abortion was rampant in pre-state Israel during the British Mandate (1923-1948). In 1942, then-Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog fervently addressed the Assembly of Representatives concerning abortion, and he implied the Holocaust was perhaps a consequence. Ironically, the study also revealed that Jewish inhabitants idealized Western Europe’s small family structure, contributing to their abortion rates.
Shoshani asks for prayers for Israel:
▶ Public debate concerning abortion.
▶ Hearts to turn to God in broken- hearted repentance.
▶ Knesset members who will work to change the laws.
Operation Moses sponsorships available at: beadchaim.com/project-moses/
P.O. Box 223
Jerusalem 9102601 Israel