Israel High Court Rejects Woman’s Request for Superdonor’s Sperm

Health Ministry forbids accepting sperm donations from Ari Nagel, an American who has donated sperm openly and at no cost to women all over the world

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Ari Nagel, Mathematics Professor and world-renowned sperm donor
Ari Nagel, Mathematics Professor and world-renowned sperm donor Credit: Facebook
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday dismissed a request by an Israeli woman to get pregnant with the sperm of Ari Nagel, an American who has donated sperm openly and at no cost to women all over the world.

The justices accepted the Health Ministry’s position that it was forbidden to accept sperm donations from Nagel because the donations are not anonymous and he does not plan to actually parent the children that result. Nagel has fathered 35 children in this fashion, along with the three children he has with his current wife.

The petitioner, a single 42-year-old woman, sought to undergo in-vitro fertilization with Nagel’s sperm. In 2017 she contacted the Sperm Bank Medical Center to perform the procedure but was refused, after the Health Ministry legal adviser had determined that the sperm donation was not legal. Nagel had already donated sperm to six Israeli women without the Health Ministry being aware of it since his frequent donations had not yet been publicized.

Under Israeli law, a sperm donation must be anonymous, meaning that neither the donor nor the recipient can know the other’s identity. The other option is a sperm donation by a partner who commits to raising the child. To circumvent the anonymity rule, Nagel signed a commitment to joint parenting with the petitioner, as he had with the other Israelis who received sperm from him.

But Health Ministry workers were not persuaded that he actually planned to raise the petitioner’s child. Last June the ministry forbade women to get sperm samples from Nagel, and instructed sperm banks not to accept, store or use any of his sperm donations.

The woman and Nagel petitioned the court early last year, asking it to allow her to become pregnant with Nagel’s sperm. In October the court issued an interim order asking the Health Ministry to explain its position. The justices also asked Nagel to submit within 30 days a detailed affidavit, backed by documents, demonstrating that he fulfilled all the Health Ministry conditions for sperm donation, including a statement on the status of himself, his wife and their children.

According to the petition, the IVF regulations and the guidelines governing the various options for sperm donation were set without proper authority, since they do not stem from medical or organizational considerations, but rather from social and public considerations. She and Nagel argued that the decision was unreasonable, disproportionate and violated the woman’s right to be a parent.

Justice Neal Hendel, who dismissed the petition along with Justices Menachem Mazuz and Anat Baron, wrote in the ruling, “The decision in this case is easy; the reason is the very exceptional circumstances of the case, including the petitioner’s [Nagel’s] past and present behavior and the ‘parenting’ agreement which shows that the petitioner had no intent to act in accordance with the law and public interest.”

Nagel, 42, of New York, started a decade ago to donate sperm freely for immediate or future use, without bureaucracy or expensive lab work. “I simply love to see the joy of mothers and children,” he told Ynet. “Never underestimate the desperation of a single woman on the Upper West Side. And I don’t have to get up at night to a crying baby.”

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