In what looks to be a breakthrough in the fight for equality, the Health Ministry announced Monday a temporary change in the gay surrogacy policy, making it easier for male homosexual couples to arrange surrogate pregnancies in Israel.
According to the new changes, single gay males or homosexual couples who have frozen embryos abroad, or are planning to freeze them until the end of April, will be able to bring them to Israel for insemination via a surrogate.
This means that tens, and perhaps even hundreds, of couples can now continue the surrogacy process they've started abroad in the country, with an Israeli surrogate. The existing law permits fertilization of eggs only in Israel, which negatively affects male couples or gay individuals, who could only find a suitable candidate to donate eggs abroad.
"In light of the recent information accumulated by the Health Ministry, it was decided that fertilized eggs should be allowed to be imported in order to be inseminated in Israel under the law, if the eggs were frozen abroad before 1.5.2022, in a clinic known to the ministry," the Health Ministry said.
The same directive will also result in a significant reduction of costs of the surrogacy process for single males, females, and couples who need egg donations - and it will also increase the chances of success through in vitro fertilization.
The health care system backed the decision of the ministry. "The new directive states that all the male couples who have been allowed to undergo the surrogacy process in Israel and have frozen embryos abroad, i.e. fertilized eggs, can bring them to Israel and perform a transfer to the surrogate," the Chairman of the Oshri Surrogacy - Men Having Babies, Prof. Ami Amit said.
"The previous directive said that they were only allowed to bring frozen eggs and perform the fertilization in the country. The amendment in the directive also gave a treatment option to many gay couples who have embryos overseas.
"The new directive lifts the ban on bringing these embryos to the country, and it's certainly a significant relief in both treatment and economic terms. And it addresses male couples and single men who bought eggs, fertilized them, and have embryos overseas. This is a piece of significant news. The publication of the directive has already caused positive responses and I have received quite a few praises so far," Prof. Amit said.
The Health Ministry said in response: "Upon receiving final references, it became clear that the existing procedure didn't meet the law's instructions, and that changing the policy might harm couples during the surrogacy procedures. Therefore, the health minister and the director general instructed to correct the law so that the demand for non-body fertilization to carry out surrogacy only in Israel would be abolished.
"The ministry intends to distribute a bill on the issue as soon as possible, and it has already made a request to the department of counsel and legislation at the Justice Ministry on the matter of not changing the practice that is used until the amendment of the law."