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Defeat Moves to Hold Further Hearings on the Abortion Bill

The coalition majority in the Knesset’s Social Welfare Committee defeated opposition attempts to hold further hearings on the controversial abortion law amendment that passed its first reading in the Knesset Monday. The measure is expected to come before the Knesset for its second and third readings early next week and is considered certain to be adopted.

Menachem Porush of the Aguda Israel, who is chairman of the committee, ruled against calling expert witnesses–doctors and social workers–despite angry protests by the Labor opposition. He insisted on and got a committee vote in favor of the restrictive measure which the Aguda has demanded as its price for remaining within Premier Menachem Begin’s coalition.

The amendment passed its first reading Monday by a vote of 58-53 with nine abstentions after Begin defused strong opposition within Likud’s Liberal Party wing by declaring the issue a vote of confidence in his government. The amendment abolishes clause five of the Abortion Law which permitted abortions for socio-economic reasons, meaning for mothers of large poverty level families.

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