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Israel moves toward allowing egg donations among lesbian couples

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz directed the Health Ministry not to prevent or impose a limit on the transfer of eggs removed from a lesbian woman during fertility treatment to her domestic partner.

Mazuz's directive, issued yesterday, was in response to a request by a woman who had previously had children as a result of in-vitro fertilization. Some of the eggs that had been fertilized with donated sperm were frozen, and the woman is now seeking to donate them to her partner, with whom she shares a household. Mazuz said that egg donation could be permitted by law under such circumstances, because it is not contrary to the public interest.

A number of requests to the Health Ministry have been made by lesbian couples seeking permission for such donations.

In making his decision, Mazuz noted that he was not creating or recognizing a new domestic status, which would fall within the purview of the legislature. He also called the current legal situation - in which the sensitive subject of egg donations is not properly dealt with, and in which such donations are forbidden outside of the context of medical treatment due to fertility problems - "unsatisfactory."

The legal adviser to the Health Ministry, Mira Hibner-Harel, clarified yesterday that Mazuz's decision does not apply to egg donations between all lesbian couples, and relates only to eggs extracted in the course of necessary medical treatment.

"The attorney general stated that each future case will be judged on its own merits, as long as there is no legislation on the subject," Hibner-Harel told Haaretz.

She added that in the current case, "the woman who will impregnated with the eggs will be registered as the mother, whereas her domestic partner who donated the eggs will not be considered to be the mother at first, but will be required to pursue adoption proceedings."

Hibner-Harel noted that at present no doctor in Israel is authorized to extract eggs from a healthy woman and transfer them to another woman.

Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) is promoting a bill on egg donations, which was previously approved on first reading and was also debated in the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee.

In recent weeks, the legal adviser to the ministry has met with with rabbinic figures including Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in order to discuss sensitive aspects of the bill, due to come up for a Knesset vote in the coming weeks.

The new legislation would permit egg donations in Israel, and is expected to substantially reduce the current demand among Israelis for egg donations from abroad.

The bill would provide for compensation for egg donations in the country, as is customary for sperm donations. The Health Ministry expects higher levels of payment for the donation of eggs (up to NIS 6,000) than sperm, in light of the special conditions that the process involving eggs entails, including anesthesia.

Hibner-Harel said that if the proposed bill is passed, each case will be examined individually by a committee.

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Added: Nov-30-2009 
By: aydeo
Middle East
Tags: Israel, Lesbian
Views: 7162 | Comments: 11 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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