Israeli Doctors Protest Concession on Autopsies

Concessions by Likud to the ultra-Orthodox Aguda Israel came under fire today. The Israel Medical Association wrote to Premier-designate Menachem Begin urging no change in the present laws governing autopsies. The Social Workers Union warned Likud that it would fight any attempt to amend the abortion law by removing the social condition of the mother as one of the grounds for approval of abortion.

The Aguda, with four Knesset seats, has agreed to join a Likud-led coalition. It made several demands in the religious and social areas including curbs on abortion and barring autopsies without family consent. Likud has acquiesced to these demands.

In a letter to Begin, Dr. Rami Yishai, chairman of the Medical Association, declared that any amendment to the law on autopsies would seriously affect the quality of medical care in Israel. He said that physicians do their utmost now to comply with the wishes of the families but in certain cases autopsies must be performed in the interests of national health and family objections must not be allowed to override medical considerations. Dr. Yishai noted that the National Religious Party (NRP), for many years a coalition partner, never made such demands and that whenever controversies arose over autopsies they were generally settled to the satisfaction of the NRP and the medical profession.

Itzhak Kadman, leader of the Social Workers Union, wrote to the Likud leadership that the present abortion law was adopted in response to the needs of the underprivileged sector of society. To eliminate social conditions as a reason for abortion would place a severe burden on the poor, he said. He cited unofficial statistics that showed that about 80 percent of the abortion requests brought before professional screening committees for approval cited social conditions. (By Yitzhak Shargil)

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