The israeli Prime Minister Mr Menachem Begin has failed by a narrow margin to secure support for tighter abortion laws in line with his undertaking to a minority party in the Knesset.
The israeli Prime Minister Mr Menachem Begin has failed by a narrow margin to secure support for tighter abortion laws in line with his undertaking to a minority party in the Knesset. The small, orthodox Agudat Ysrael Party, which has four seats in the 120 member Knesset, agreed to support Mr Begin's recent cabinet reshuffle only if the tighter abortion law was passed.
SYNOPSIS: The failure to fulfil the Agudat Ysrael Party's conditions raised a question over the future of Mr Begin's government. The proposals to tighten the abortion law ran into stiff opposition, some of it from Mr Begin's own party coalition partners.
The proposals being debated was to repeal a clause in the Israeli abortion law allowing pregnancies to be terminated for social and economic reasons where a woman already has more children than she can menage. Without the support of the Agudat Ysrael and their allies, Mr Begin would control the bare minimum of 61 seats out of 120. It was at times a heated debate, with the Knesset full and the tension high as many members considered that the fate of the government was to stake.
The members chose not to be tied by party discipline or by their coalition obligations to Mr. Begin's government. The government suffered the reversal after it lost the vote of Deputy Prime Minister Yadin's Democratic Movement, and also several of Mr. Begin's own Likud bloc members.
Some of the Liberal Party members said they could not return Israel to the Middle Ages, When the results of the vote wee read, there were 54 votes to 54, with two abstentions. The Government members voted against, and the clause allowing social reasons for abortion survived.
Opponents of the proposal were jubilant at the result and in defiance of Knesset rules broke into applause. The Agudat Ysrael, which also has influence over the ten National Religious Party votes, immediately began consultations on the result.