Document Type


Publication Date



In contrast to American understandings of abortion as a uniquely tragic dilemma, the Israeli abortion issue is a tangential controversy in a larger debate over the relationship between the state’s national and democratic identity. The divergent paths of abortion politics in Israel and the United States reflect important differences in underlying religious doctrines, geographical size, feminist ideologies, and the immediacy of other social cleavages. More profoundly, the two abortion stories are the product of distinct understandings of the mutual obligations between citizens and their state and of the relationship between individual and collective rights and duties. While these differences may account for the capacity of Israeli activists on both sides to forge pragmatic compromises, the stability of these policies is uncertain both because of changing Israeli priorities and the import of American conceptions of the abortion dispute.