Why Israel Needs a Strong Pro-Life Movement
In this episode, Joel and Carl discuss a deeply challenging and often overlooked topic: abortion in Israel.
They shed light on the permissive Israeli law and culture surrounding abortion and the staggering number of abortions that have taken place since 1948. They also touch on the lack of support and forgiveness for women who have had abortions in a society that actively encourages the practice.
This conversation highlights the need for a stronger pro-life movement in Israel and the efforts of The Joshua Fund to support pro-life ministries financially and logistically.
Join us as we dive into this significant issue and discover how we can stand with the unborn and support the healing and restoration of those affected by abortion.
*This episode of Inside The Epicenter was recorded before the Hamas attack on October 7.
- [Carl] The following conversation between Joel and myself was recorded before the Hamas attacks, so please keep that in mind as you listen. We will continue to drop special updates in our podcast feed when necessary. Thanks again for all your prayers and support of Israel in this crucial time.
- [Joel] The estimates of legal and illegal abortion since 1948, the conservative estimate is about 800,000. Now, that's horrible, but when you think of a country right now with less than 10 million people, that would be 8%.
- [Carl] Is abortion the greatest scourge in Israel today? Hi, and welcome to Inside the Epicenter with Joel Rosenberg, a podcast of the Joshua Fund, a ministry dedicated to blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I'm Carl Moeller, executive director of the Joshua Fund. And today we're going to address a very challenging topic, abortion in Israel, and the desperately hard situation that is facing so many women with abortion in Israel. Joel, welcome. I know you're in Jerusalem right now, and we're coming up on a very special day, a day of prayer for the unborn in Israel. And many of our listeners may not realize what a terrible scourge abortion is on the land of Israel right now. And maybe you can help us talk about that in general, and maybe specifically what the Joshua Fund and others are helping mobilize in Israel to pray against that.
- [Joel] Yeah, thank you, Carl. It's a very painful and difficult topic, but it's one that deserves attention. It's really something that most Christians are not aware of how permissive the Israeli law and culture is about abortion. You know, in fact, I would say that most of the Christian leaders, including the pastors we brought over in the summer and others that we talked to, the board even, last December, I think it was when you all came over, people were shocked meeting with pro-life leaders to realize how widespread abortion is in Israel. So big picture. So in 1977, Israel legalized abortion. Now, it didn't legalize abortion on demand, meaning it wasn't a right, they didn't have a Supreme Court decision like Roe v. Wade. But, you know, four years after Roe v. Wade, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, did pass this sweeping law that did allow Israeli women to take the lives of their unborn children legally. At that time, and I wrote this column, and we'll put the link to several columns we've written about it. But one, we talked about how many abortions are there. And if you go back to the beginning of the state of Israel in 1948, it actually was a terrible scourge of illegal abortions. Be clear, I don't support it having become legal. It should be illegal. But what was happening was it was illegal and many, many women were having abortions as a form of birth control. It wasn't that their lives were immediately in danger. They just didn't want the baby mostly for economic reasons, but also for, you know, yes, there, it's usually less than 1% are the cases of rape or incest or something like that. But the vast majority is, I don't want this baby. It's not convenient, I don't want it. They'll come up with all kinds of reasons that are on the list of legal reasons in 1977. But what's interesting in Israel is you have to, a woman just until recently, until last year, but all these years, once it was legal, you have to apply and then go before a committee, a three person committee, two doctors, and a social worker. And you have to make your case. That's not like it is in America. America, you just, you know, have an abortion. You just, you don't have to ask anybody, you just do it. But in Israel, you had to ask. Now, they've changed that just literally in the last year that you can apply online, but it still gets reviewed by a committee. Anyway, many women didn't want to apply, or their reasons they didn't think they could pull off the legal reasons. They had other reasons. Or they didn't want to take the time, or they didn't want their husband to know, or their boyfriend to know, or whatever, lots of reasons. So the big question is how many abortions have there been? And so the column I just did this week as we record this, heading up to this National Day of Prayer for the unborn, the first national big movement of prayer like this, there have been smaller events over the years, of course. But anyway, the bottom line is the estimates of legal and illegal abortion since 1948, the conservative estimate is about 800,000. Now, that's horrible, but when you think of a country right now with less than 10 million people, that would be 8% of the current population is gone. I can't do the math real quickly. I guess maybe I could. If there's 330 million people in the United States, then 33 million would be 10%. So maybe it'd be like, I don't know, 28, 29 million people, except it's actually more. In America it's 63 million abortions have been done since 1973. And that's not even counting illegal abortions. But all that to say, 800,000 abortions in Israel, that's the conservative number. But as I described, and we don't have, I mean, I can go into detail if you want, but many of the pro-life leaders here in Israel, followers of Jesus, they do crisis pregnancy counseling and provide food and diapers for the first year for a woman who keep her child rather than aborting it, Joshua Fund supports these ministries financially and with humanitarian relief, these diapers and the food and so forth, they estimate that the number's probably closer to 2 million or even slightly more than that, 2 million. And it's just not something that gets talked about even in the church enough. That's why these pro-life organizations are coming together, you know, and we've been Joshua trying to be, uphold their arms and provide whatever logistical support we can to help them put together this very important first ever national day of prayer for innocent unborn. And that God would move not only to make this illegal, but to strengthen and protect the pro-life movement and help it grow and to care for these women who have had abortions and are now dealing with guilt, shame, loss, and they're suffering, and how are they gonna get forgiven? How are they gonna find help and healing in a society that actually actively supports abortion? And there really isn't a national pro-life movement here, like there is in the United States.
- [Carl] Yeah, well, we wanna talk about the state of the pro-life movement in Israel, and maybe some of the ways in which the Joshua Fund is coming alongside some of those pro-life groups to help bring them together to make a national movement. Before we get take a break, I want to talk about how easy it is to get an abortion in Israel, and especially an area that many Americans would be shocked to know is that the government actually funds abortions for IDF soldiers, women soldiers, and provides that for them. What can we say about how to address that kind of tragedy?
- [Joel] Yeah, most abortions in Israel are taxpayer funded. And one can legally go to a private clinic and have this done. And many women go to these private clinics anyway, so that they don't have to do it the legal route. When I say illegal abortions, I should say, we're not really talking about back alley abortions or do it yourself or anything. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about you go to a doctor, but the doctor doesn't report that you're doing this. And he takes your money, but he doesn't tell anybody else. And so it doesn't go into the official statistics, and you don't have to go before the committee and so forth. So depending on your income and everything, you can get your abortions usually free. And in the Army, you're right, generally speaking, it's believed that every young woman is allowed to have at least two free abortions, almost like it's accepted. Like you're gonna sleep around in the Army and if you get pregnant, you certainly don't wanna keep it, so we'll just kill it for you. So that is like a horrible situation. And I think it's having a huge spiritual and emotional, it's taking a huge spiritual emotional toll on the country that's unnoticed, undiscussed. You can't kill a million to 2 million people in a country of 10. I'm not saying it's happening every year. I mean, obviously, you know, it's a smaller percentage over all the people that in Israel over 75 years. But my point is, that's a lot of people. I mean, think about it, when you go to the Holocaust memorial called Yad Vashem here, there's a whole section commemorating the 1.5 million children that were murdered by the Nazis. It's very possible that we as Israelis have murdered more children, Jewish children than the Nazis. There's a consequence to that. Even if you take out the spiritual consequence, meaning you're gonna have to stand before the ward one day. And we don't want that. What we want is people to find forgiveness and healing, spiritual, emotional, physical, and hope, redemption through the Messiah who came to die on the cross to forgive us all of our sins, past, present, and future. That's the hope of the cross. That's the hope of Jesus. Why it makes it even sadder that the Israeli culture is encouraging women to have all these abortions, multiple abortions. Now, even married women are about 50% of all abortions. 50% are married women, they're not single, poor, you know, living in the boondocks someplace with no way to raise a child. I mean, that's a still a wrong reason, right? But these are married women who they just don't want these children. And so that combined with no way of forgiveness in this culture, no temple. And even if there was, that's not God's plan in the new covenant era. God said through Jeremiah the prophet, I'm gonna give you a new covenant, right? I'm gonna send a Messiah. That's the way you get all your sins forgiven and hope and healing and emotional spiritual renewal, that you are a new person. The person that maybe murdered that baby, or the husband or brother or boyfriend or whatever, who paid for it, encouraged it, that's not the same person you are when you come to faith in Jesus, because you are born again. You're a whole new person. You're gonna have that memory. But Paul was a murderer too, when he was a Pharisee, a Jewish extremist, he murdered people. He thought he was doing the right thing, but then he realized he hadn't done the right thing, and he was forgiven for that. So the Bible central to the New Testament, is even murderers, if they're truly repentant and they let the Spirit of Christ convince them to repent and accept the Messiah, you get a hundred percent forgiveness for everything you've done in the past, everything you might be doing now, and anything you might do in the future. That's the hope of the good news of the gospel. But it's not a hope that most Israelis know.
- [Carl] Yeah. Well, we're gonna talk about hope and the state of the pro-life movement in Israel, and the things that we, even now people listening to this podcast can do to stand with the unborn in Israel. And we're gonna take a quick break right now, Joel, and when we come back, we wanna give people some of that hope for what God could do through a unified pro-life movement in Israel. Stay tuned. Our verse of the day today is Proverbs 24:11-12. "Rescue those who are being taken away to death. Hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, behold, we did not know this. Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it, does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it? Will he not repay man according to his work?" And our prayer requests today are, number one, pray that God protects unborn children from every harm in Israel. And when we pray for restoration, we pray for restoration for those who suffer guilt from abortion. Also, we pray for leaders to create a culture of sanctity of life in Israel, beginning at conception. Well, Joel, we're back. And this is a heavy topic. It's so hard to consider, you know, the enormity of abortion in Israel and around the world and just how offensive that is to God. But there are those men and women, faithful men and women that the Joshua Fund has stood alongside for years in some cases, and now who are working to serve the unborn, but also serve the mothers and fathers of those that have considered abortion and to the post-abortive moms and dads as so much is painful about abortion, but they're doing some really amazing work. And maybe we can talk a little bit about that and the unique thing that's happening this year for the first time, prayer for the unborn as a unified national movement in Israel.
- [Joel] Yeah, one of the greatest things I think that the Joshua Fund does is help fund ministries that are underfunded, providing resources as well as encouragement, prayer, strategic thinking, brainstorming. You know, we provide a lot of assistance and encouragement to ministries here in Israel. And of course, among the Palestinians and in the neighboring countries. And pro-life ministries are too small here. There isn't enough money, there isn't enough equipment, sonograms, for example. There isn't enough volunteers. It's a movement, but it's not nearly big enough. And that is something that, therefore the Joshua Fund has wanted to invest in financially over time, and then certainly prayerfully. And then, you know, as I referenced earlier when the Joshua Fund, north American Board came with you and some of the senior staff leadership here to Israel to kind of meet with a number of partners, spending time with some of the key pro-life leaders in the country was part of the agenda. Because it's important to us. And again, most Christians, even within the Joshua Fund, still sometimes don't fully realize how bad this situation is over here. We sort of assume as American evangelicals or if you're in some other country, but let's say Americans that because there's a robust pro-life movement in America, there probably is one here. No, it's very small, too small. Not even all congregations are involved. So this is a personal passion for Lynn and me. We not only pro-life, but like Lynn, one of her first jobs in Washington, was working for a major pro-women, pro-family, pro-life organization to mobilize people to be standing for life. And Lynn and I, even while we were still dating, I think we were engaged, but not married yet, we actually went to Washington from Syracuse University. We went down there. In fact, maybe we can put the show notes a photo of us at the Pro-Life march in January of that year. And so, you know, and we've got big signs that are like, stop abortion. So this is important to us all through our lives and having four sons and two miscarriages, it means a lot to us. And we know women personally in our personal lives, in our orbit who've had abortions and weren't believers then and have had to go through counseling and discipleship. But Christ has given them a whole new lease on life. I know a couple that they're still traumatized. They only recently in the last couple of years even told us, and we've known them for decades, that they'd had an abortion. And they were living in guilt. Lynn and I discipled them. We love them, we've vacationed with them. They never told us. It just was something that was so dark and shameful to them. They didn't even wanna share it with us, and we're among their coaster friends. And so, but they have, and now they're involved actively in the pro-life movement in the United States, as a way of sort of giving back and being able to share with other couples who've gone through this, their own experiences and how Christ has not only healed them, but started to bring this out in the light. So they got to the point where they were able to talk about it. Just 'cause you've been forgiven of something doesn't mean you know how to help somebody else walk through it. But I'm very grateful to this couple that God has done this work of redemption in their lives, and now God is using them in a way that I didn't even know that was a thing in their lives, no matter how close we are. So I love the pro-life investments and encouragement that the Joshua Fund has done. And now this event, this national Day of prayer for the unborn, again, I wanna be clear for some of the founders of the pro-life ministries here, you know, they've reminded me, it's not like we've never done anything. No, I'm not trying to say that. It's that this is something new. Not only are they doing this sort of big national day of prayer for the unborn, where they're encouraging pastors and lay leaders and all kinds of people to come to this day of prayer, but also they put together a 10 day prayer guide so you can walk your way through scriptures and pray these prayer points on the first day of the 10 day journey. And it's matching up with the, what's called the 10 days of awe here. These are the 10 days from Rosh Hashanah where you're supposed to blow the trumpets. It's supposed to be the New Year and the Jewish calendar. And it's really... In the Bible it's not the new year, it's the Feast of Trumpets, meaning it's time to start preparing your heart to get ready for Yom Kippur, which is the Day of atonement. So you have 10 days to confess your sins to God, confess your sins to each other, to apologize, to try to make things right. And then you bring your sins to the Lord. If it was done in the power of the Holy Spirit, it's a beautiful season. So these pro-life leaders for the first time thought, let's put together a 10 day prayer guide so that it's sort of tracking with these 10 days of our building to a day of atonement, there is atonement. The problem in the Jewish world is there is no atonement, there's no temple, there's no lamb, there's no sacrifice. So you're just sort of hoping that your prayers will be accepted except that you're ignoring tragically what the Bible says, which is there's a point where there won't be a temple, but there will be a Messiah, turn to him, he's your hope. And so we, as followers of Jesus, we know that hope and we need to live by that hope. So for multiple reasons, Lynn was able to be involved in, and some of our other staff, in helping, just helping the local ministry leaders, pro-life leaders to get to this point. We're not doing this for them, but we're happy to come along and provide whatever help that we can. And one of the first things you do on day one of the 10 days is pray, Lord, what can I uniquely do to defend the unborn. And as I was sitting with my son and one of my sons and one of my daughters-in-law, and we were praying this through, I said, well, I don't really have a lot of skill sets, but we can make this known. And so we started to do multiple articles on All Israel News and of course, and now doing this podcast. And this fall, Lord willing, I'll also be doing a whole program about this for the Rosenberg report. And yeah, we're pretty passionate about it, but it's a small tribe of pro-life leaders here. And the tribe definitely needs to increase. So may we be praying for that. And may the Joshua, you know, have the wisdom of the Lord to know how best to fund and encourage this movement to grow.
- [Carl] No question in my mind, it's such a crucial component of how we can stand with the body and fundamentally bless Israel. There's lots of ways we can bless Israel, but this is a fundamental way to be encouraging prayer and engagement for the unborn and also for those that choose life. I love that the pro-life ministries that we support also stand with mothers sometimes up to a couple years after the birth of their child. You know, that has to be part of the Christian witness in the midst of this as well. And it is-
- [Joel] So much of the criticism that I hear in the political sphere, like in the United States is, oh, you just guys who are trying to stop abortion, but what are you doing for these women in, you know, who have these children? Well, that's a huge part of the pro-life movement, the adoption movement, the crisis pregnancy movement. It's all part of being pro-life. You don't just tell someone, don't do this, and then you're on your own, right. And that's a key part of what happens here as well.
- [Carl] Well, it's such a beautiful thing to see the love spread into those that have been so traumatized by abortion, to also mobilize people to pray. And as the proverb we read today, to rescue those that are being led away to slaughter, to stand in the gap that way, through prayer and through direct action. It's a beautiful thing. And Joel, I'm so grateful that you wanted to use the other venues of the Rosenberg report and this podcast and all Israel news to highlight this very, very challenging scourge on the people on the land of Israel. So we wanna mobilize Christians all around the world to pray and to learn about this, to pray, and to stand with the unborn at this crucial time.
- [Joel] And let me add one last thing before we go. I know time is fleeting, but I wanna encourage people to learn and to pray and to give to the Joshua Fund and also to go. And by that I mean, come with us. I mean, I say come because I'm here. But you know, Carl would say, go. Go Joshua Fund November 28th through December 8th, come here to the land of Israel. Not only will we take you to all these wonderful places, but we'll give you updates on what's happening in the pro-life movement. How God is bringing hope and healing, not just on that issue, but on a number of others. And I just want you to be part of it. And yes, it's great to stand with Israel wherever you are, but how much better to stand in Israel and to meet the living stones, not just see the dead stones of all the ancient wreckages, which you'll see, and it's pretty fascinating, and modern buildings. But meet the believers that are on the front lines, both Jewish and Arab every single day serving the Lord. They're encouraged when you come and you'll be encouraged, I guarantee you. Meeting the local believers will be better than you even realize. You wanna come because you wanna walk where Jesus walked. Amen. But you don't realize the extra blessing. Not every Christian tour that comes to Israel makes, in fact, most don't make it a part of their tour to make sure that you get to meet local believers, men and women, Jews and Arabs. But that's a Joshua fund distinctive. And so I just wanna encourage people, it's not too late, but it's getting late.
- [Carl] It's getting late.
- [Joel] It's not too late to sign up yet. But please go to joshuafund.com and sign up for you and your family to come to Israel this fall as part of the 75th anniversary year.
- [Carl] Amen. Well, Joel, thanks again. That's exactly where we're gonna leave it that people can come and pray in Israel as well as for Israel. So thank you, brother. It's been great talking with you today about this very important topic.
- [Joel] Not my pleasure to talk about this topic, but I'm glad it's important to talk about. And if we don't talk about it, who's going to talk about it.
- [Carl] Amen.
- [Joel] It's an honor.
- [Carl] And to our listeners, if you'd like to learn more about the Joshua Fund, visit our website at joshuafund.com. And there you can learn more about what God is doing through us in the Middle East to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus, and how you can participate in the healing work that we're doing in this critical region. And as always, check out our show notes for anything you heard on the podcast that you'd like more information on, such as the prayer guide and information about our tour to Israel this November. For Joel Rosenberg, I'm Carl Moeller. Thanks for listening to Inside The Epicenter. Thanks for joining us on this episode. If you've found this podcast really valuable, please get in touch with us. Let us know who you are. Are you searching for Jesus? Do you have a question you want Joel to answer? Go to joshuafund.com and click on Contact Us. Your feedback is incredibly valuable to us as we develop this podcast. And as always, you can check out our show notes for anything you heard on the podcast you'd like more information on. For Joel Rosenberg and the Joshua Fund ministry team, I'm Carl Moeller. Thanks for listening to this episode of Inside the Epicenter with Joel Rosenberg.