A Haifa woman is petitioning the National Insurance Institute to recognize a baby she gave birth to, as well as twins born to a surrogate mother, as triplets.
The NII objects to the petition, submitted to the Regional Labor Court in Haifa last week, claiming the significant benefits to triplets' mothers apply only to babies born during the same birth.
The twins were born 29 hours after the woman gave birth to the first child.
The NII has classified the plaintiff as having given birth to one baby and having two additional twins. A mother of triplets is entitled to benefits of some NIS 80,000 more than a mother of twins, and to three extra weeks of materity leave.
"This is a very clear case," the woman's attorney Zohar Barzilay said yesterday. "It's triplets who will go to the same nursery school, eat the same baby food and are no different than any other triplets."
The plaintiff had tried unsuccessfully for years to have a baby before she finally gave birth to a child in recent months. She conceived nine times, but she repeatedly miscarried. Specialists told her that her chances of carrying a pregnancy to term were extremely low, and about a year ago she located a surrogate who conceived in-vitro.
A few days later, the petition says, the woman discovered she herself was pregnant. In view of her medical record, doctors did not expect she would be able to carry the pregnancy to term.
Yet the woman did give birth to a live infant in recent months; 29 hours later the surrogate also gave birth to twins.
The plaintiff asked the NII to recognize the three infants as triplets, citing media reports about the country's social protest last summer, and about the high cost of raising children, especially triplets. But the NII rejected her request, noting that the three children had not been born during the same birth and therefore did not qualify as triplets.
The plaintiff has also asked the court to rule against the Social Affairs Ministry in the case, so that the court's verdict would apply to similar cases for other mothers.
"I'm disappointed with the NII's rigid approach," Barzilay said yesterday. "They should have displayed greater flexibility. I have no doubt the law was meant to include cases such as this. [The plaintiff] is eligible to be treated as a mother of triplets."
But the NII stands by its decision. "The law does not permit such benefits for [the plaintiff]," the NII stated. "Therefore we will be happy to respect the court's verdict in the case."