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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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An Interview With Dr. Eli Schussheim, Chairman Of Agudat Efrat.

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Q: It is unusual to find a doctor who devotes an enormous amount of energy into preventing abortions. What motivates you?  

A: Given the understanding that life is of supreme value, I decided to study medicine, a field that would allow me to protect this priceless gift. Having completed medical school in Argentina in 1963 I chose to become a surgeon, reasoning that this would allow me maximum ability to follow this goal. In 1977, once I discovered that terminated pregnancies were the number one reason for the loss of life in Israel I decided to dedicate my life to stopping it. At the same time I wanted to ensure the wellbeing and health of abortees.

Q:  At what point in a pregnancy does life begin?

A: Man is created when a cell produced by a woman becomes attached to a cell produced by a male. If these cells remain unconnected the lives of the cells are terminated within 48-72 hours. However, if they do connect and the egg begins to fertilize it has the potential of living for 120 years. Biologically this is the starting point of life.

Q: Do you recall any cases where a pregnant woman came back to you complaining that she regretted not following through with an abortion?

A: Never. On the contrary, we have helped over fifty thousand women and not one has come back with regrets. Each and every woman is grateful to have safely delivered the child they carried in their womb.

I have been a practicing surgeon since 1963. In the course of my work I have come across millions of sick people suffering from numerous ailments and yet, I cannot, and do not, promise anyone that a particular medicine or surgery will be successful.

There is only one thing I can and do guarantee: With Efrat’s support no pregnant woman will ever regret her decision not to terminate her pregnancy.

Q. What is the most serious complication a woman can expect following an abortion?

In my experience, regret. Even though regret is not listed in a single medical journal as an ailment is the most serious aftereffect of an abortion.

There is a long list of possible physical and emotional scars that a woman might experience during and after an abortion but for some reason regret does not feature on this list. This despite the fact that it affects 95% of woman who undergo an induced abortion. As a medical practitioner, with over a decade of experience, I do not know of any other decision as critical and decisive as the decision to terminate the life of an unborn child.

Q. Why is regret considered such a serious complication?

A. Almost all the other side effects are physical and can be treated medically leaving no trace of any scars whatsoever. This is not the case with regret. There is no known medical treatment for a scarred soul.

Q. On what do you base your claim that Agudat Efrat is truly concerned with, and champions the rights of, the health of women?

A. The right of a pregnant woman considering an abortion is to make her decision based on a full awareness of the possible complications that may arise. Unfortunately, organizations flying on the banner of feminism do nothing to protect the rights of women. Efrat’s concern is that women are fully informed. We provide them with all the necessary information based on our medical and scientific experience garnered over the last thirty years.

Q. When do you use religious grounds as a means of preventing abortion?

A: Agudat Efrat absolutely does not try to influence pregnant women on ideological, ethical, moral, religious or psychological grounds.  We focus only on the woman’s physical, and emotional, present and future wellbeing.

Q: Given the fact that over the last few years the number of pregnancies among younger people has grown what message would you offer to the younger generation?

A: Every young man and woman must know that they are held responsible for their actions. It is very easy to become pregnant but much more difficult to end an unwanted pregnancy.

About the Author: Sarah Pachter lives in Israel and writes for a number of publications. She is the author of the book "Supermom? (Who? Me?)"


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More Articles from Sarah Pachter
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She wrote about everything in a woman’s world, from kids to husbands, and feelings including pain and grief. Writing her book, at least in my opinion, was an incredibly brave statement, one that exposed a truth that must be told.

Pachter-091313

Q: It is unusual to find a doctor who devotes an enormous amount of energy into preventing abortions. What motivates you?

Rosh Hashanah, the start of the High Holidays, was fast approaching. I had promised myself that this year would be different. For years I have followed their activities with a mild interest, just an observer, as though their concerns were not my own, but this year, in the wake of recent media storms and false accusations, I promised myself that I would finally take a stand. I would go down to their Jerusalem office and see for myself. And I did. As I pushed open the doors of their rather nondescript office I took a deep breath – welcome to largest life saving industry in all of Israel – Agudat Efrat.

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Throughout the years, she’d hidden her in the windowless room at the back of the house. I always wondered why we were never welcomed over the threshold. I knew her daughter had been born with a problem, but it was never discussed and I’d only caught a glimpse of her from afar before she was hurried away. Oh sure, people gossiped, as people always do, but Chedva was my friend, and I defended and respected her right to privacy.

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