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Israeli Ethiopian birth control ignites debate

February 18, 2013 • World News


In this Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2013 photo, an Ethiopian Israeli, who asked not to be identified, is seen during an interview with The Associated Press in Jerusalem. Accusations that Israel deliberately attempted to curb birth rates among its Ethiopian community have reopened a charged debate over discrimination against the immigrants, highlighting the state’s tenuous relationship with a community that has yet to fully settle into the Israeli mainstream. While the charges have not been proven, it remains unclear why so many Ethiopian women were receiving a controversial injection that is hardly prescribed to other Israelis. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Accusations that Israel deliberately tried to curb birth rates among Ethiopian immigrants have reopened a debate over discrimination against the group — highlighting the state’s uneasy relationship with a community that has yet to fully settle into the Israeli mainstream.

Women’s activists and a series of media reports contend that Ethiopian women who immigrated to Israel over the past two decades were coerced into taking a controversial birth control drug without being properly informed of its side effects or being offered alternative contraceptives.

While the allegations have been strongly denied by the government, it remains unclear why so many Ethiopian women were receiving Depo-Provera, a long-acting birth control injection that is rarely prescribed to other Israelis.

Israel’s Health Ministry has denied any wrongdoing and ruled out an investigation. Nonetheless, last month it ordered the country’s HMOs to stop prescribing the drug to Ethiopians unless they are fully aware of the potential side effects, which can include decreased bone mineral density and difficulty getting pregnant for up to two years after the injections stop.

The controversy has shined a fresh light on the Ethiopian community and its place in modern Israel. Believed to be Login to read more

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