Gay couple with baby להט"ב
Gay couple with baby להט"בiStock

In an unprecedented step, gay couples and single men whose infants are born via surrogate will be hospitalized in the maternity ward at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, Israel Hayom reported.

As part of the new initiative, one of the homosexual male partners will be hospitalized in the maternity ward, while the other will be the escort. The surrogate mother will not be hospitalized in the maternity ward but in the Gynecology Department. The homosexual partners will receive close support and guidance from the medical staff, as do all other couples who arrive at the hospital for a birth. According to the hospital management, the new policy will include adaptations of the existing hospital policies.

Dr. Rony Chen, who heads Beilinson's L&D, as well as its maternity wards, told Israel Hayom, "We waited many years for a process which will allow couples to bring children into the world thorugh surrogacy. As a member of the LGBT community, I understand the depth of the adaptations which we need to make. The hospital is a home for all new families, for all the gay couples and single fathers. Gay parents will receive the treatment and the special support which we have created for them, which is adapted to the needs of the growing family."

According to Viyulan Karasik, midwife and head nurse of the maternity ward, the goal is to make the process of initial connection with the new baby easier.

"The natural connection which is created during pregnancy between the parents and the embryo takes place differently during surrogacy," she said. "In order to ease the process of connection between the fathers and the baby, we need to think creatively. We are guiding and accompanying the parents in their new families."

The homosexual couples are invited to tour the delivery rooms and familiarize themselves with the hospital and its various services. Following the birth, there is a hospitalization period of 48 hours or more (according to the parents' wishes) in the maternity ward, which includes close guidance that provides both the knowledge of how to initially care for the baby, as well as advice on creating a connection with the baby. The staff guidance in the maternity ward includes support for feeding the babies and diapering them, as well as guidance on bathing the babies.

Professor Asnat Walfisch, who heads Beilinson's Helen Schneider Hospital for Women, said, "After the Surrogacy Law was approved in Israel for gay couples and single parents, it was clear to me that we needed to lead the issue, as a women's hospital which prioritized empowerment of the women it serves, and their autonomy and freedom of choice. I am proud to be a partner in the innovative model which we have built here."

Meanwhile, not all of the responses to Beilinson's announcement were positive. Eliraz Fine, a digital creator and spokesperson for "Fathers for Justice," posted, "Why are they hospitalized? What examinations do they need to undergo? Does one of them need to make sure that his uterus has properly contracted after the birth? That he is not hemorrhaging? That there is no retained placenta? That he is breastfeeding properly?"

"Why is my husband, who is also an emotional new father, not allowed to come in and stay at my side during the hospitalization after the birth, other than during visiting hours, and certainly not overnight - but a pair of homosexual men can stay on the other side of my curtain even though nothing has happened in their bodies?!

"The baby (who anyways belongs only to one of them) can see his father exactly like my baby - during visiting hours.

"And unlike them, the reason I need my husband around, unlike those men, is because I am a postpartum and in pain, and it is complicated to manage that way with a baby. Not because my husband needs to bond with the baby.

"Why, as a postpartum woman, should I need to share a bathroom with a man? To sleep with them in the same room, to face their looks as the doctors and nurses open my curtain when am nursing the moment they come around? Not to mention the constant need to cover my head because they are around - and that is significant for religious women and for Arab women."

Fein warned, "It starts in Beilinson, but dear women, if you do not protest, you will find this happening at your side, despite the fact that it seems to you that it is only a small percentage, there are *in Israel* right now over 300 processes of pregnancy each year which are surrogacies for gay couples, and that is just the beginning (because it was approved a minute and a half ago)."

Fein, who hashtagged her post, "don't give birth in Beilinson," added that if the hospital still feels a need to provide this service to homosexual men, it can open a ward dedicated to them, "though with all due respect, it seems to me that in this country there are needs which are health-oriented and lifesaving and which are much more urgent to subsidize."