Womens' Panel Laments Cut in IVF Treatment

An emotional meeting of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women was held yesterday to discuss the issue of limiting the number of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments covered by health insurance to five, because of budget cuts in the health system.

Shirli, who had undergone seven treatments and according to the government decision would not be entitled to more, was among the fertility patients invited to the meeting.

"From my point of view this is a death sentence," she said. "Are only the rich entitled to become parents?" she demanded.

Another fertility patient, 25-year-old Becky, who has undergone four treatments so far, said she understood that if her next treatment failed, she "would be sentenced never to give birth. Would they tell a 70-year-old man that he is not entitled to an operation because his life expectancy does not justify it?"

Committee chair MK Gila Gamliel (Likud) called the government's decision limiting IVF treatments "unconscionable infuriating, and unacceptable," and said that fertility treatments are a basic right and a moral value of primary importance.

In a statement to the press, Dr. Yoram Balshar, Chairman of the Israel Medical Association, called the recent budget cuts in the health system "an intifada of the government of Israel against its citizens. This is a government that is killing its citizens with amateurish decisions. Ministers have admitted they have no idea what they are voting for."

Dr. Balshar also called the decision to cut NIS 250 million from the health budget an unparalleled scandal.

"The health basket is already missing NIS 200 million for essential and lifesaving drugs. Instead of adding to the budget, it is being slashed. How can fateful decisions impacting thousands of people be taken in this fashion?" he asked.

Dr. Balshar said he has requested an urgent meeting with the Health Minister Dan Naveh to discuss the government decision on budget cuts to the health system.