Israeli laws on surrogacy could expand to allow LGBT couples access

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The health minister of Israel, Yael German, announced on December 11 that she is promoting a bill that would amend surrogacy laws to allow LGBT couples equal access.

The bill would also allow single people to make surrogacy arrangements, and change the requirement that those planning to hire a surrogate undergo a screening process once, rather than twice, to be approved.

Same-sex couples in need of surrogacy services were acknowledged in the for the first time in Israel in 2011, when a report by the Mor Yosef Committee recommended that same-sex couples should be able to legally use surrogates to expand their families, but only if the surrogate was not working for pay, a restriction heterosexual couples do not have. When German officially became the health minister in March 2013, she declared the committee’s verdict unacceptable, and announced her intention to equalize the law.

The costs of hiring a surrogate in Israel can cost 200,000 shekels (USD $57,100) or more; having to make surrogacy arrangements entirely in other countries drives the cost up even higher.

Under the proposed bill, it would be possible to import ova or sperm from other nations but make all agreements within Israel. The legal process involved would also be more effectively organized; each surrogacy arrangement is private, and the Health Ministry would supervise the process, but not be considered responsible for results.

The co-founders of the Parenthood Center, Mina Yulzari and Ada Atias, applauded the bill, but expressed concern about potential unintended consequences: “Given the fact that there are so many restrictions for women to become surrogate mothers today, the decision will bring with it a shortage in surrogate mothers and a rise in the price for surrogacy in percentage by the hundreds,” they told Ynet News. “When the reform goes into effect, the demand for surrogate mothers will rise significantly.”

Israeli citizen Chen Levinger said, “I think it’s good that there’s a more liberal approach and more equality [if the bill passes]…but like they said it is still going to cost a lot of money and there won’t be enough women to be surrogates. It’s good, but it doesn’t solve the problem.”

The bill is scheduled to be submitted for consideration on January 15, 2014.

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