MK Nissim Zeev of Shas stirred up a storm in the Knesset Constitution Law and Justice Committee on Monday when he said he intends to propose a law banning sex outside the framework of marriage.
During the committee session, which debated raising the minimum age at which boys and girls can get married from 17 to 18, Zeev said "The lack of responsibility on the part of young men and women in Israel who have sexual relations outside of marriage, get pregnant and then have an abortion, has become a serious problem. I intend to propose a law in the Knesset to ban sex not in the context of a marriage."
During the same session, the committee approved a first reading of five proposals by both coalition and opposition parties concerning the minimum age of eligibility for marriage. According to the proposals, a couple that gets married before the age of 18 could face criminal charges. Rabbis who marry underage couples may also face charges.
If the proposals become laws, family courts will be empowered to allow underage marriages under special circumstances.
Zeev opposed the proposals, saying "The laws are anti-religious, coercive and outrageous." He later told Israel Hayom "There are young men and women who live absolutely reckless lives, which is fine because they didn't approach a rabbi to marry them, but when they marry according to the Jewish religion, that is prohibited. This is anti-religious and it damages our values and morality."
Zeev has proposed several bills recently concerning family issues. In March, he proposed to outlaw abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy, claiming that late-term abortion constitutes murder.
According to Zeev's proposed law, a woman would only be able to terminate a pregnancy after 22 weeks based on the recommendation of an obstetrician/gynecologist, and only in special circumstances, such as if continuing the pregnancy endangered the woman’s life or health, if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if the fetus had a severe birth defect.
An explanatory note to the proposed law states that “at the age of 22 weeks, the fetus is already viable, and terminating a pregnancy at this stage constitutes murder rather than an abortion.” The statement also claims, “Abortions after 22 weeks kill the fetus while causing it great pain and suffering.”
“Almost all European countries outlaw abortion after 22 weeks, and even before,” the proposed law states. The bill also claims that Israel’s penal code does not currently set fetal age restrictions on abortions, while in the U.S., many states accept scientific studies showing that fetuses feel pain from the 20th week.
Doctors belonging to the Israel Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology strongly oppose the proposal and say that existing legislation already severely restricts late-term abortions. The claim, they say, that late-term abortion in Israel is a free-for-all is not true.