Twenty-six years after Israel became the first country to pass a state-supervised surrogacy law that included only married heterosexual couples, the Health Ministry has announced a change allowing same-sex couples, transexuals and single fathers to make arrangements for producing a baby with surrogate in Israel.
“This is a historic day for the struggle of the LGBT community in Israel and for Israeli society as a whole. We are putting an end to years of injustice and discrimination – the surrogacy equality revolution is underway,” declared Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who himself is openly homosexual. He made the announcement along with ministry director-general Prof. Nachman Ash as they presented an expanded Surrogacy Law.
Horowitz added that the new director-general’s circular “anchors the High Court ruling and states simply what was supposed to be completely self-evident – equality. From now on, we will treat every parent and family equally. Everyone has the right to parenthood. We have expanded the interpretation. As a gay minister who is well aware of exclusion and discrimination, I set myself the goal of making the Health Ministry the flagship of human rights and equality. The Israeli health system is becoming one of the most advanced in the world in relation to LGBT people and every person. It is a great pride. There is still a lot of work ahead of us in the struggle for full equality, but such moments are exactly what gives me, and all of us, strength to continue.”
Until now, anyone who wants a baby with the help of a surrogate mother who is not a heterosexual woman or couple has had to go abroad, paying very high fees and having to travel abroad for the procedure. It could be accessed only by Israel citizens, not foreigners; this specification remains in effect.
Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries and delivers a baby for an individual or a couple unable to have children for medical reasons. The woman can either become pregnant through artificial insemination of a man’s sperm or an embryo produced through in-vitro fertilization is implanted in her uterus, and therefore there is no genetic connection between the fetus and the surrogate mother. In Israel, only the second type of surrogacy is permitted by law, with the surrogate mother getting paid for her time and effort but agreeing to forgo all parental rights.
The new regulations allowing homosexual male couples and single men to use surrogacy agreements followed a High Court ruling two years ago that recognized the original version of the law prepared by the Health Ministry as being unconstitutional. Last summer, judges said that they would change the law after the government failed to do so.
“The new regulation anchors the High Court ruling and states simply what was supposed to be completely self-evident – equality,” Horowitz said. “From now on, we will treat each parent and each family equally. Everyone has a right to parenthood, straights and LGBT, singles and couples. I am pleased to inform you that transgender people will also be able to access the surrogacy process in Israel,” he added.
Ash commented that “the value of equality is important for the whole population throughout Israel, as well as in relation to various populations. This circular is an important stage in this effort. We see great importance in making medical service accessible to as wide a group as possible and to all communities.”
The definitions of “intended parents” and “single intended mother” in Section 1 of the Surrogacy Agreements Law will be abolished so that the law will be interpreted in a way that does not exclude from the surrogacy arrangement single men and spouses of the same sex. The other provisions of the Agreements Law and the relevant provisions of the Egg Donation Law, 2010, must be interpreted in accordance with the principle of equality and according to two criteria.
.The average prices for foreigners to make an agreement with a surrogate in the US are about $100,000; in India $47,350; in Thailand $52,000; in the Ukraine and in the former Soviet country Georgia 49,950; and in Mexico $45,000.