Jerusalem Post: Helping African women in Tel Aviv

July 23, 2012

By Mariel Eve Ackerman, Career Israel
We, as individuals, and as a society (and the government of Israel) have an opportunity to be up standers, to be righteous among the nations.
For most Americans, the issues of government oppression, genocide, civil wars, mosquitos and hunger in Africa are experienced only through television commercials portraying young children as an emotional tactic to elicit monetary aid. Not so long ago, this was the extent of my knowledge and perception of societal problems in Africa.
After finishing graduate school with a M.Sc. in Health Systems Management from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, and working in project and medical group management for two years – I decided I wanted to live in Israel and somehow make my degree valuable in this land that Jews from all over the world feel such a strong connection to.
Through a Masa program called Career Israel, I was placed with an NGO called Hagar and Miriam, a branch-off organization of Brit Olam and Topaz.
Hagar and Miriam’s mission is to help refugee and asylumseeker women in Israel access pre-natal medical care (although their specific statuses were not distinguished by my organization).
My role was to be a coordinator of abortions, and I spent my days meeting with dozens of African refugees, asylum-seeking women and migrant workers, almost solely from Eritrea. I was to navigate the healthcare system for them.
There are five stipulations, one of which must be true, for a woman (Israeli or not) to be allowed to have an abortion in Israel. They are: 1. The women is under the age of 18 or over the age of 40. 2. The woman is not married. 3. The woman was raped. 4. There is health risk to the mother, and 5. There is health risk to the infant.