Health Ministry to Investigate Maternity Ward Separations

Hadassah Ein-Kerem Hospital. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Yerushalayim’s Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In the wake of last week’s story on how hospitals “separate” Jewish and Arab women in maternity wards, the Health Ministry has invited in the heads of major Israeli hospitals to discuss their institution’s policy and the rules that should prevail.

A report last week on Israel Radio documented the “separation.” As part of the marketing of hospitals to entice expectant women to choose where to have their babies – and with the maternity department considered the most lucrative in a hospital, according to industry experts – hospitals go out of their way to accommodate special requests by mothers-to-be, and among the most popular is apparently a request from Jewish women that they not be placed in a room with an Arab mother.

According to the report, some hospitals did this as a matter of course, without even asking, while in others, requests were accommodated with no questions asked. The report said that such “separation” was illegal according to Health Ministry rules, although there did not seem to be any actual violations of the law. In general, most separation requests come from Jews; according to the hospitals; Arab mothers “rarely” request that they be housed only with their own compatriots.

Health Ministry rules forbid this kind of separation, and Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, said that he plans to ensure that those rules are kept. In a statement, the Ministry said that “in hospitals, health clinics, mother and child wellness centers, and at doctors’ offices all Israelis are treated equally and receive treatment, side by side. This is an important aspect of health care in Israel. We stress that any discrimination is forbidden.”

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