The shocking headlines of “Teams of gynecologists in medical centers are preparing in case abductees become pregnant again” from various media sources, reflect the horrifying reality of rape endured by Israeli abductees in Gaza. Many of us, consumed by the gruesome horror, failed to contemplate the equally horrifying aftermath. Ayelet Levy-Shahar, mother of the abducted young woman Naama Levy, published a column highlighting the brutality her daughter was subjected to. Aviva Segal, a former captive, shared the terror of the situation, describing how the abductees were treated like puppets.
Noam Dan, who tragically lost her aunt Carmela and cousin Noya in the October 7 events, with more family members still in captivity, emphasizes the reluctance to discuss rape for fear of labeling the victims. The revelation that men were also raped was particularly shocking, and the topic remains largely unspoken.
Halachic and moral complexity
The hospitals preparing for the possible return of pregnant abductees face numerous challenges. Prof. Tal Biron-Shantal, director of the women’s and obstetrics department at the Meir Medical Center, explains the complexities of the situation. While technically, terminating a pregnancy before week 24 is legal in Israel, the moral and emotional aspects are far more complex. The need for mental and emotional support for these women is paramount, as they grapple with the trauma of rape and potential pregnancy or abortion.
How to prepare?
Preparation extends beyond the physical to mental support, as the gynecological procedure is just one part of the trauma endured. The hospitals aim to provide personalized care for each woman, understanding that not all will openly discuss their experiences of sexual abuse. The Ministry of Health, however, has not yet released a systematic plan for the specific treatment of these victims.
“I stood in front of the sign ‘Work liberates’ and I just fell apart. Everything drained for that moment”
MK Sheli Tal Miron from “Yesh Atid”, a member of the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, discusses her recent visit to Poland, where she addressed this issue. She founded the lobby for the kidnapped and the lobby for victims of sexual and gender violence in the war. She expresses concern about possible pregnancies among the abductees and the rush to bring them back.
How to prepare for the possibility of the return of abductions during pregnancy?
The daily realities of rape raise the possibility of pregnancies among the abductees. There are medical, halachic, and psychological complexities to consider. MK Miron highlights the potential for trauma bonding between abductor and victim, as well as the physical toll of malnutrition and trauma on the victims.
In Poland, MK Miron was warmly received, and she shared a graphic representation of the October 7 events. The reactions were overwhelmingly pro-Israeli, reinforcing her belief in the power of face-to-face dialogue and presenting hard evidence.