Israel – Litzman Supports Bill to Ease Egg Donations But Religion of Donor’s to be Stated


    Yakov Litzman in the Knesset (Israel's parliament) in Jerusalem, on June 08, 2009 . Archived Photo by Abir Sultan/Flash 9Israel – After 10 years of negotiations, a bill setting guidelines for egg donations will be presented tomorrow for government approval. The new measure is intended to ease restrictions that in the past encouraged Israeli women with fertility problems to travel abroad to gain access to assisted reproductive technology.

    Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman agreed to support the legislation after it won the backing of prominent rabbinical authorities. The rabbis, in turn, agreed to support the bill after it was amended to allow the donor’s religion to be stated. Another clause was added, requiring an individual born from an egg donated by a non-Jewish woman to undergo a conversion process later in life in order to be considered Jewish.

    Litzman will present the Health Ministry-drafted bill to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. The measure was passed in a preliminary reading by the previous Knesset, but was since withheld from the legislative agenda for unspecified reasons. The ministerial panel said two weeks ago that it would support a parallel bill if Litzman persists in withholding the original legislation.

    The new measure was initiated by MKs Rachel Adatto (Kadima) and Aryeh Eldad (National Union), both of whom are certified physicians. The two bills – which are identical in content – are aimed at expanding the circle of women eligible to donate and receive eggs, and codifying regulations for paying donors.

    The existing law allows only women undergoing fertility treatments to donate ova, or women who could stand to benefit medically by having their eggs harvested.

    Narrow legal restrictions led to a severe egg shortage in Israel in recent years, and women seeking egg donations were forced to obtain them abroad.

    Ovum donations have fallen dramatically since 2000, when a police investigation exposed certain doctors removing large number of egg cells from patients unaware of the procedure, or who had agreed to donate much smaller cell samples than were taken. The medical license of the highest-profile physician implicated in the affair, gynecologist Zion Ben-Rafael, was revoked in March 2007 for two and a half years.

    Six months ago, Romanian police exposed allegations against the Israeli-operated Sabyc clinic in Bucharest, which allegedly trafficked in human egg cells. Authorities estimate that some 250 Israelis traveled to the clinic each month to receive donations, each of which cost NIS 20-30,000.

    The new legislation would allow Israeli women between the ages of 20 and 35 to donate ova. Payment for donors has not been determined, but is expected to be set at NIS 6,000. Compensation for egg donors would be higher than that for sperm donors, as ova harvesting requires patients to undergo hormone treatment.

    The bill stipulates that a woman suffering from fertility problems can request an egg donation between the ages of 18 and 51, and have expenses covered by Israel’s health basket. The law designates egg donation as anonymous, and a baby born through in vitro fertilization will be legally considered the child of the recipient.

    A genetic database will allow individuals 18 years and over to check whether they were conceived through third-party reproduction without exposing the identity of the egg donor. Couples wishing to marry, in which one partner was born through in vitro fertilization, will be able to check the database to determine whether they have any biological ties to their prospective spouse.

    The database will also allow egg recipients to ascertain the donor’s religion. In certain cases, the new law would allow a recipient to choose a donor. The bill, however, prohibits healthy Israeli women from undergoing hormone treatment to travel abroad to donate eggs.

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    1. What a stew! What a tangled web we weave! Children born to mothers who aren’t theirs and mothers giving birth to children who aren’t theirs. Yidden with non-Jewish children. This is something that’s given approval by the “rabbis”! Welcome to today’s standards!

      • You could always consider the angle of a childless couple who, without sperm or egg donation, will never know the joy and beauty of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, etc. We who are blessed with children should support them in reaching their goal.

      • There are major poskim who hold that the woman who carries the fetus and gives birth is the halachic mother. And don’t sneer at them by putting “rabbis” in quotes.

    2. The rule, as I understand it, is that a child born of a Jewish mother is Jewish. It would seem to me, therefore, that the origin of the egg is not m’akev. This would appear to be similar in the machlokes between R’ Moshe and the Satmar Rebbe concerning artificial insemination.

      • If you really believe these issues are so funny, maybe you’d enjoy being in the situation where you had to consider this procedure in order to have a family. This is NOT something one makes lite of.

      • You really don’t see the difference between selling a vital organ and doing egg donation, when you have millions of eggs? Buy the way, you’re not “purchasing” eggs or sperm. You’re paying someone for the time and effort involved in the donation. A woman who does egg donation has to take medication and go through and egg retrieval. Obviously, a man who makes a donation doesn’t go through as much. Either way, it can’t be compared with the surgery and risk involved in kidney removal, not to mention that you’re left with only one kidney. Not quite the same as parting with 8 or even 20 eggs, when you have many, many more than you will ever utilize in one lifetime.

        I’m guessing that everybody who thinks it’s either crazy or funny doesn’t know the pain of infertility. Especially in the Jewish world, where children are valued and expected of every marriage.

    3. About your headline, amho’aratzim–the plural of “donor” is “donors,” with NO apostrophe. Do you write, “He owns two house’s in New York”? I know what happened. In the second paragraph of the article shteyt “donor’s religion,” with an apostrophe, which dort iz richtig, so one of you dumb monkeys just grabbed “donor’s” with an apostrophe and threw it, mit fermachte oygen, into your headline. Are you careless or just ignorant? Perhaps, both.

    4. Why is Litzman seeking the advice of rabbonim on a public health issue. The focus should be on what is best for the parents, not some rav’s hangups on IVF proceures. It should be up to the parents to consult their rav or posek regarding the halachic implications of their fertilitity treatment. let the helath minisister focus on medical and health policy and not wast time trying to second guess the decisions of parents who desparately want to have children. Its none of Litzman’s business.


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