A 1977 law ensures a low-cost, and in some cases free, legal abortion to any woman who fills one of four criteria:
In 1980, a fifth criterion that allowed abortions for women living in economic hardship was abolished due to pressure from religious political parties.
A woman who seeks to terminate a pregnancy must appear before one of the 41 abortion committees operating in public and private hospitals around the country. These committees include three members — a physician whose field of expertise is obstetrics and gynecology; another physician who is either a family doctor, psychiatrist, internist or gynecologist, and a social worker. At least one woman must be present on each committee.
Six separate committees consider requests for termination when a fetus is beyond 24 weeks old. No hospitals in Jerusalem, however, will perform these abortions.
In 2012, 21,104 applications for termination of pregnancy - out of 21,689 (97%)- were approved. 20,063 pregnancies were actually terminated, approximately 10% of all known pregnancies in Israel. In addition, it is likely that more than 10,000 abortions were illegally performed in private doctors' clinics.