Israel Allegedly Forced Ethiopian Women to Get Birth Control Shots [Update]S

Israel recently admitted that gynecologists were systematically injecting some Jewish Ethiopian immigrants with long-lasting birth control before allowing them to enter the country.

Israel has clarified its birth control guidelines after being accused of systematically injecting some Jewish Ethiopian immigrants with long-lasting birth control before allowing them to enter the country.

The scandal was exposed by local investigative journalist Gal Gabbay, who found that many Ethiopian women were told they wouldn't be allowed to move to Israel unless they were injected with Depo Provera, a highly effective long-lasting contraceptive injection that comes with some troubling side effects, such as a decrease in bone density. Way more troubling, obviously, is whether officials were more or less trying to neuter Ethiopian women without their consent.

About a third of the 120,000 Jews of Ethiopian origin who live in Israel were actually born there; the rest immigrated and, in the past decade, did so via transition camps, where the shots were reportedly "standard practice." According to the L.A. Times, "a sharp decline in birth rate has been noted among the Ethiopian community over the past decade."

Mekonen-Dego, an Ethiopian-born social worker, told the LAT that "the suggestion Ethiopian women can't be trusted with responsibility for their own health is outrageous." Indeed. And it's not like this was a new accusation; feminist group Isha L'Isha researched the prescription policy in Israel back in 2009 and found that 60% of the injections in one HMO were prescribed to Ethiopian women. Hedva Eyal, head of the organization's Women and Medical Technologies project, said the report was essentially ignored. "The ease with which a woman's testimony is dismissed — certainly that of a black woman and a poor black woman at that — is shocking," Eyal said.

Ron Gamzu, director general of the health ministry, wrote a letter to the country's four HMOs telling gynos not to prescribe or renew prescriptions in cases where the patient doesn't totally understand what's going on, a mandate which should really go without saying. The letter made it clear that the policy applies to all women, so that it wouldn't appear that the government was acknowledging racist practices. We're unconvinced.

[LAT]