Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to postpone a ruling on surrogacy rights in Israel by six months.
The postponement came at the last moment, as the court was set to order Israel's government to allow gay and single men to freely use a surrogate in Israel. Currently, surrogacy is only legal for heterosexual couples who cannot have children on their own.
Single women receive fertility treatments at an 85% subsidy for their first two children, while lesbian "couples" receive subsidized fertility treatments for their first four children. However, gay and single men cannot receive these subsidies, since they do not have a uterus with which to carry a baby.
They therefore turn either to international surrogacy or adoption.
Under Israeli law, a surrogate must meet certain criteria. These include that surrogates must be unmarried, must not use their own ova, must not be related to either biological parent, must receive a certain sum of money, must meet various health criteria, and must be approved by the government.
The embryo must be created using the designated parents' genetic material (or a donor, if the intended parents' genetic material is not viable), and the intended parents and surrogate must be of the same religion. In addition, intended parents must be proven to be infertile. A Health Ministry committee supervises the process and approves or rejects the request.
The reasons behind the laws are varied, ranging from health concerns to pressure on the surrogate by a family member, to concerns about trafficking and turning women into "slaves," while allowing couples or singles to purchase a baby.
Several years ago, a disabled woman who had "had" a baby using a surrogate, donor egg, and donor sperm, had the child taken away from her. At the time, the Welfare Ministry said the woman was not capable of taking care of the child (who was cared for by a full-time nanny), and that the child was not legally her own.
The LGBTQ push to allow Israeli surrogacy for single and gay men opens a Pandora's box of ethically questionable situations. Were the Supreme Court to rule that gay and single men are allowed to use a surrogate, they would in fact be declaring that the "right to become parents" is more important than protecting women and children from what could easily turn into a commercialized "baby purchasing."
Deputy Court President Justice Salim Joubran said, "The process of writing the ruling was at its height and we were on the cusp of reaching a decision."
Waiting to see what the recent amendment to the bill would do, he said that "the time has not yet come for a final ruling."
"Personally, I see no justification to prefer heterosexual parentage to same-sex parents, and [I hold this to be true] generally, [and specifically] regarding the right to become parents – as well as [access to] the myriad of techniques to do so," he said.
In saying this, Jourban ignores several studies showing that children who grow up with same-sex parents have higher rates of late-onset depression, and are less likely to have a stable relationship or higher education in adulthood.
The new amendment would allow single women to use their own ova and a surrogate, on condition that the intended mother was medically unable to carry a pregnancy on her own.
This does not, however, help gay and single men. And the countries to which these men turn for surrogates suffer from exactly what Israel wants to avoid: Women who have no other options, and offer their womb in exchange for the ability to buy food.
The Supreme Court's comment comes on the heels of a heated debate over whether to allow LGBTQ individuals and pairs to adopt the babies under two usually reserved for infertile heterosexual couples. Meanwhile, the pro-LGBTQ community insists the argument is about adopting any child, and speaks about the right to adopt as if it were the right to propagate.
According to some, only 3 out of 550 LGBTQ couples were approved for adoption in the last nine years, while over 1,000 heterosexual couples were approved. Even if these figures are true, they ignore the fact that many heterosexual couples are not approved and later adopt internationally, as well as the fact that a key component in approval for adoption is successfully passing a psychological test.
If only three of these couples adopted, evidently, only three of them were fit to serve as adoptive parents, as shown on the standardized psychological tests.