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A directive issued by Health Ministry Director-General Prof. Avi Yisraeli forbidding the health funds from financing the sale of transplant organs abroad received legal backing on Monday from the High Court of Justice.
The ruling was described by the ministry as a "signal of normative values at the highest level" that could serve as a precedent on the issue, even regarding possible Knesset legislation in the future.
According to the ministry, the ruling stated that the marketing of organs for transplant, including for money, which encourages their sale by people who are in distress, is morally wrong.
The case involved a female plaintiff who needed a kidney. The woman denounced Yisraeli's directive, which set down guidelines for the health funds on financing organ transplants abroad and which the ministry said was aimed at fighting the phenomenon of organ sales.
The ministry has been working for years to arrange for primary legislation on the matter, and the Knesset is now discussing a government bill. The High Court called on the Knesset to complete the legislative process on what it called an important and sensitive matter.
Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said there was no reason to interfere with the directive, and that there was nothing wrong with the government using a directive to prohibit health fund funding of organs for sale abroad - at least until a law was in place.
Organ transplants save many lives, Rubinstein stated, but organ sales cheapen human life to the greatest possible extent. Foreign transplants of organs from humans who sold them must be regarded just as they are regarded in Israel, the justice said - prohibited.