This paper focuses on the impact of religious values and organizations on two issues of health policy, abortion and autopsy, both of which have been subjects of deep controversy between religious and nonreligious groups. The comparison between the issues centers on three stages of policy making: problem formation, problem solving and decision making.
Two models of influence on public policy are employed: (1) one in which political parties attempt to suppress issues, and (2) a group model which applies to a well articulated, controversial issue which is resolved by groups with direct access to decision makers.
The party model is relevant to the abortion issue, which was submerged beneath the surface of the public agenda due to national-religious value orientations. The group model fits the autopsy issue, which has been a subject of controversy between the Medical Association and religious groups.
Decision making on these issues was characterized by a pattern of compromise and accommodation which resulted in only slight deviations from norms of behavior previously practiced. The decisions made reflected the intricacies of the Israeli political system, and the salience of religious values in health policy making.