(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A bill that would grant money to women who choose to give birth at home has passed on its first reading in the Knesset plenum. At present, the National Insurance Institute does not issue such delivery grants because health authorities discourage home births.
The private member’s bill was presented on Monday by MK Tamar Zandberg. Under its provisions, a woman would be eligible if a licensed midwife or physician submits a statement to the Health Ministry saying they were present at the birth and all ministry regulations on home birth were followed.
Other provisions require the ministry to report the births and arrange payment of the grants, which are: NIS 1,571 for a first child, NIS 887 for a second, and NIS 525 for the third and subsequent children. The grants are meant to help offset costs of purchasing equipment for the newborn.
Thirty-one MKs voted in favor, none opposed. The bill will now move to the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health committee for further handling before a second and third reading.
Zandberg said it was irrelevant where a woman gives birth as expenses are the same. Between 600 and 800 home births take place each year. While the ministry has opposed home birth in the past, and still recommends that women give birth in a hospital, it withdrew its opposition if its criteria are met in face of pressure by those advocating the change.