Following reports on Ynet and an appeal by The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel, the Health Ministry sharpened its guidelines and instructed hospitals to approve openings of joint files for same-sex female couples at sperm banks.
Recently, Dr. Etti Samama, director of the Health Ministry's Division of Medical Technology Policy, clarified that a joint file should be opened in all hospitals and without delay for female couples, after Ynet's investigation revealed that some hospitals refuse to do so.
"Due to the appeals received by the Health Ministry, we clarified that there’s no reason to deny the opening of a joint file for both partners in the sperm bank, even if the sperm samples are intended for only one of the partners," Samama wrote.
"Furthermore, it’s possible to use sperm samples from the same donor for both partners, and couples requesting this should be allowed to open a joint file and purchase sperm samples from the same donor. This is subject to compliance with the rules and procedures of sperm banks, including genetic compatibility between the donor and each recipient."
According to the investigation, some hospitals allow the opening of a joint file and the transfer of sperm donation from one partner to another, while others refuse to do so.
The investigation focused on the opening of a joint file for a female couple interested in receiving a sperm donation, obtaining joint approval for the procedure, the possibility of transferring the sperm donation between the partners, and the ability of both partners to conceive simultaneously from the same sperm donation.
According to the inquiry, the following hospitals cooperated with the couple in all the criteria: Sheba Tel-HaShomer Medical Center, Shamir Medical Center, Rabin Medical Center, Ichilov Medical Center, Rabin Medical Center, Bnai Zion Medical Center, Herzliya Medical Center, and Hadassah University Hospital.
Other hospitals, such as Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center, Carmel Medical Center, and Baruch Padeh Medical Center, do not allow female same-sex couples to open a joint file.
The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel responded to the ministry's guidelines, with the association’s chairwoman, Hila Peer, saying that: "As gay women, we’re discriminated against twice in Israel, both as women and as part of the LGBTQ+ community.”
“The fact that some sperm banks have discriminated against same-sex female couples for years is just one of many examples of institutional discrimination against women and the LGBTQ+ community, such as the discrimination in parental registration against gay women who are refused to register as their children’s mothers after giving birth," she added.
"I’m pleased that the Health Ministry issued new, clear guidelines and will closely monitor their implementation to ensure that sperm banks comply with them and end this discriminatory policy against both same-sex female and transgender couples,” she said.
“I hope this is a step towards greater equality in the health care system. We will not rest until we achieve equal rights for everyone in Israel."
Attorney Didi Selzer, from the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel, added that "the decision will ease the process of having a child to same-sex female couples, allowing them to open a joint file in both of their names, reduce costs, and aid for the equality of LGBTQ mothers. The path to equality isn’t over, but this marks a significant step."