Advocacy and Raising Public Awareness
Lada’at works to promote much-needed change in the Israeli health system by advocating for policy change in collaboration with other organizations, contributing our knowledge from the field in Knesset committee panels and work with decision makers, and using traditional and social media as tools for raising awareness about issues that require public action. Currently, in the field of advocacy, we are focusing on pushing for the improvement of women’s health services in East Jerusalem as part of a forum of organizations, as well as on our work as part of the Coalition for the Annulment of Pregnancy Termination Committees in Israel (including 17 NGOs and a number of prominent activists) to bring about the abolishment of pre-procedure mandatory committee approval. We are gratified that our work as one of the leaders in the coalition has recently produced a positive reform: in June 2022, following months of intensive advocacy work with Health Ministry officials and lawmakers, the Knesset Health Committee voted in favor of modifications to the current, extremely outdated abortion regulations. The modifications include moving committee application online and removing some of the more invasive questions from the questionnaire, as well as making the administration of abortion pills available in local HMO clinics, not just in hospitals. While this is a crucial first step, we have far to go in creating equity in access to reproductive healthcare.
Our current focus in raising public awareness is working to ensure that all women know what to expect when visiting an OB-GYN as a way to prevent the misuse of power by medical practitioners. In recent months, ever since the first news story broke about sexual assault of patients by a prominent OB-GYN, we hear of women postponing visits or avoiding them altogether out of fear, effectively endangering their sexual and reproductive health. Our goal is to empower women by giving them the knowledge they need to be able to assess the appropriateness of their treatment at the hands of their OB-GYN and have the tools to call out inappropriate, unethical, illegal and/or violating behavior. To this end, during the month of March, we held a series of online events and ran a successful media campaign. Another side of our work on the OB-GYN visit is putting pressure on the Health Ministry to approve longer appointments. Currently, a woman who visits her OB-GYN is given a slot of 15 minutes, no matter what the issue, and this brief amount of time is meant to provide enough time for discussion with her doctor, a physical examination, explanation by the doctor of options for treatment/contraception/etc., choosing a course of action and producing the necessary written report and referrals. We are lobbying the Ministry to change this impossible situation and therefore improve the care – and options – provided to patients.
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