Health Minister Yael German announced an intiative on Wednesday seeking to allow same-sex couples to become parents with the help of an Israeli surrogate mother.
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Currently this option is only available to heterosexual couples, while gay couples must find surrogate mothers abroad at a cost that can the reach hundreds of thousands of shekels. It’s not yet clear how much political opposition the change might face or when it would take effect.
The announcement is based on the May 2012 recommendations by the Public Committee for the Legislative Evaluation of Fertility, which would make Israel one of the world’s most liberal countries in fertility.
Under the panel’s recommendations, gay men and single women would be allowed to undergo surrogate treatments in Israel, married women would be allowed to serve as surrogate mothers, and a married man and his girlfriend would be allowed to receive fertility treatments without informing the man’s wife.
Accordingly, a married woman and her boyfriend would be allowed to receive fertility treatments without notifying the woman’s husband. Also, fertility treatments would be offered to couples belonging to different religions.
Meanwhile, a sperm donor would have the option of letting the child learn his identity when the child turns 18. But men would not be allowed to pay a surrogate; the motivation must be altruistic.
Still, the donor would bear no responsibility for the child’s welfare, nor would he have parental rights. The donor would not be able to receive information on the child. Today, children born from sperm donations in Israel cannot receive information on the donor, so many women prefer sperm donations from abroad.
Also, one donor would be allowed to fertilize up to seven women. This decision was made after the state comptroller discovered that sperm from a small number of donors had been used to fertilize many women – a situation that could lead to inadvertent incest.
Meanwhile, the new recommendations forbid parents and grandparents from requesting a sperm extraction from a deceased man. Finally, the committee recommended letting relatives – excluding a mother, daughter, grandmother or granddaughter – serve as a surrogate for a family member.