Two years after it was appointed by the CEO of the Health Ministry, a public committee tasked with examining issues of fertility and birth has recommended that homosexual couples be allowed to have children using surrogate mothers.
The committee's recommendation applies only to "altruistic" surrogacy, as opposed to paid surrogacy services.
- Committee to recommend legalization of surrogacy for gays
Moreover, the committee has set a number of limitations on who can serve as a surrogate mother: she can be a friend who volunteers to carry the child, or a relative other than mother, daughter, grandmother or granddaughter. A sister cannot serve as a surrogate mother for an egg that has been fertilized by her brother's sperm.
Surrogacy will be permitted only to couples who do not already have more than one child or to single men who do not have any children. The maximum age for the parents has been set at 54 at the time the surrogacy agreement is signed. The surrogate mother must be under 38.
The recommendations allow for 'altruistic' surrogacy only (Illustrative photo: Shutterstock)
In addition, the surrogate can volunteer her eggs or her services as a surrogate, but not both.
The committee was appointed following a petition to the High Court of Justice by Yoav Arad Pinkas and his partner Itay Pinkas, who were seeking to be recognized as parents under the surrogacy law. The two claimed that despite having received all the requisite authorizations, the surrogacy approval committee refused to recognize them because the existing law stipulated that parents be a couple consisting of a man and a woman.
"This is a day of celebration for the community," Itay Pinkas told Ynet. "We feel that the wait was worthwhile. The committee… did very thorough, serious work, which is why we agreed to wait with our petition."
"This issue needed to be addressed, and I'm happy that it happened. I hope that these revolutionary recommendations will be approved by the Health Ministry and quickly passed into law," Pinkas continued.
Senior officials in the Health Ministry noted that the issue of allowing homosexuals access to surrogacy was "delicate from the perspective of Jewish law" and said that Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) did not intend to take up the subject. Instead, the committee's recommendations will be passed on for approval by ministry health professionals who will make the final decision.
A senior haredi source told Ynet: "This is why UTJ prefers not to hold ministerial portfolios, because of how complicated halachic issues are. They prefer not to take personal ministerial responsibility in areas that violate the haredi way of life and Jewish law, but don't want to determine how others lead their lives."
Committee Chairman Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef said that "surrogacy in Israel has limited resources, and no few people believe that the option for surrogacy should be revoked entirely, because there is an element of exploitation of women. The committee believes that the results of the (past) 15 years in which surrogacy has existed are reasonable."
Moshe Laniado, one of the leaders of the struggle for single-sex surrogacy in Israel, told Ynet that he saw the recommendations as an unequivocal success. "Our campaign on YouTube and Facebook sparked a series of articles and media coverage that showed the public the existing situation, in which Israel discriminates against single-sex couples."
Laniado added that the recommendations gave "legitimacy to single-sex families."