Last month, an investigative journalist reported that Jewish Ethiopian women awaiting immigration to Israel in transit camps in Ethiopia were given birth control shots under the pretense that taking the shots was a pre-condition to transfer to Israel, despite the fact that many of the women did not fully understand that the injections were birth control.
For years, there had been unsubstantiated reports that Ethiopian women were given birth control shots against their will. Over the last decade the birth rates of Ethiopian immigrants to Israel has been declining.
From the Huffington Post:
“This is about reducing the number of births in a community that is black and mostly poor,” Hevda Eyal, author of the report “By Women to Women,” told The National, referring to the birth control shots.
According to a 2010 report, a majority of the prescriptions of Depra-Provera written by Israeli doctors over the past few years were for Ethiopian women. “Figures show that 57 percent of Depo Provera users in Israel are Ethiopian, even though the community accounts for less than two percent of the total population,” The National explains.
Depo-Provera is a progesterone-only birth control that is supposed to be administered every three months in order to remain effective. While considered a safe method of birth control, the drug does have several side effects and contra-indications. And, like any drug, a person who is left unaware of those side effects and contra-indications may be in danger of unknowingly taking other medications that may worsen any side effects or cause unforeseen complications.
Without admitting any previous wrong-doing on the part of the government, Health Ministry Director General Prof. Ron Gamzu banned Israel’s health maintenance organizations from injecting Ethiopian women with the contraceptive Depo-Provera “if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”
Image via Times of Israel
Jamila Akil is a Senior Editor at Beyond Black and White. Follow her on Twitter @jamilaakil