Supreme Court orders natural birth centers to remain closed

Supreme Court ruling states Health Ministry has the authority to close natural birthing centers.

Shlomo Pyutrikovsky ,

Baby (illustrative)
Baby (illustrative)

Supreme Court justices on Monday rejected two appeals to allow "natural birthing centers" to exist in Israel outside of hospitals despite the Health Ministry's order that they be closed.

The decision was made by a court majority, with only Justice Ofer Grosskopf insisting the court not approve the Health Ministry's decision.

"The stance which claims that a place (other than a hospital) offering aid in a natural birth requires a hospital license...forces the understanding that aid in a natural birth is considered to be a 'medical treatment.' This is a stance which we cannot accept," Grosskopf said.

In the written ruling, Justice Yosef Elron wrote that according to Israeli law "hospitals are institutions which, among other things, receive women and women in labor."

According to him, the Health Ministry's decision was within its authority to close the natural birthing centers, but since such a decision harms freedom of business, whether or not the decision was appropriate and reasonable must still be determined.

However, he also wrote that "the ensured and immediate benefit of this decision is the prevention of danger to the lives and health of the women and babies. Such dangers may be caused by complications during births which occur outside of hospitals, and this, in my opinion, trumps the amount of harm done to the women's rights to privacy and autonomy. This is especially true since....there is an option to have a "natural birth" in various hospitals around the country."