This piece first appeared on The Sisterhood blog at the Forward.
Back in 2011, I wrote about a ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice that allowed couples that already had several children to apply to have an additional child by surrogacy. Until the ruling, preference had always been given to childless couples by Israel’s surrogacy approval committee overseeing applications and protocols.
I wondered whether this ruling spoke to the fundamental right to parenthood, and whether it would have an impact on the rights of gay couples to start families in Israel.
(As of right now, the only way for gay couples to have children is to pay exorbitant amounts of money to do surrogacy abroad. One Israeli couple even took to crowdsourcing resources over the internet. It is virtually impossible for a gay couple to adopt a child either in Israel or in another country.)
Well, it does look like things are moving in the right direction. Health Minister Yael German announced on December 11 proposed legislation that would allow gay couples to engage surrogates in Israel. The bill will be introduced to the Knesset on January 15, 2014, and it is based on May 2012 recommendations by the Public Committee for the Legislative Evaluation of Fertility, that if enacted, would make Israel one of the world’s most liberal countries in terms of fertility law.
However, the panel, known as the Mor-Yosef Commission, recommended that gay couples only be allowed to engage a surrogate if the arrangement were “altruistic.” In other words, the woman who would bear the same-sex couple’s child would not be paid.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.