An interview with Dr. Eli Schussheim, EFRAT, President
It is unique to find a doctor who has actively dedicated himself to this cause. How did the field become your life’s work?
I chose to become a doctor to save lives and protect life. In 1963, I completed my medical studies in Argentina and specialized in surgery. In 1977, it emerged that abortion was the biggest loss of life in Israel. It was then that I committed myself to this as my life’s work.
Do you recall any cases where women regretted their decision to have their baby?
Amongst the over 75,000 women who chose to keep their baby with support from EFRAT, I have not come across even one woman who regretted her choice. All were happy with their decision. As a doctor, I have treated people with a full range of health issues, yet it is not possible to 100% guarantee that a treatment, medication or surgery will be successful. On the other hand, I feel fully able to reassure a woman that she will not regret her decision to maintain her pregnancy and have her baby.
What is the most serious outcome that could arise from a voluntary termination?
In my experience, regret is without doubt the biggest casualty. While regret will not appear on the list of potential complications of abortion, over 90% of the women that I have met have suffered from distress regarding their decision to terminate.
Why is regret such a serious issue?
There are physical complications that may result from a termination, many of which are treatable. However, regret can be life-long and living with second thoughts can be devastating.
Is EFRAT concerned with women’s rights?
A woman considering a termination has the right to be well informed. EFRAT focuses on ensuring that women have access to medical and scientifically up-to-date information. The decision itself rests in her hands.
In which cases are religious reasons given?
At EFRAT it is not acceptable to use ideological, ethical, moral, philosophical or religious reasoning. The only rationale is medical; a woman is provided with access to information that relates to pregnancy and to her physical and emotional health.
What message would you give to the younger generation about pregnancy?
Young men and women must be responsible for themselves. They should take to heart how complex the implications are of an unplanned pregnancy.