Freezing Ova 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
From now on, women aged 30 to 41 who lack partners are able to have up to 20 of
their healthy eggs frozen and stored at their own expense in hospital fertility
unit ova banks for later use.
The Health Ministry issued for publication
on Tuesday the rules and regulations it set down to allow this
The ministry also determined rules for allowing fertile women
of all ages whose eggs could be destroyed by medical treatment to freeze them as
well for use after their recovery.
Until now, only teenage girls and
women undergoing chemotherapy or other treatments that destroy ova have been
allowed to have the procedure done – at state expense – so they can eventually
become pregnant through invitro fertilization (IVF). This major change in Health
Ministry regulations went into effect following recommendations last year by the
National Bioethics Council that were turned into legal stipulations by Mira
Hibner, the ministry’s legal adviser.
The freezing of human eggs for
medical reasons includes carriers of the Fragile X premutation; women with signs
of early menopause, autoimmune diseases or chromosomal syndromes; candidates for
preventive surgical removal of the ovaries; or women due to undergo surgery that
involves ovary removal. The basket of health services pays for egg removal,
freezing and storage of eggs from such women.
Women who want to freeze
their eggs at their own expense for nonmedical reasons are expected largely to
be religious women who for halachic reasons do not want to get pregnant at the
moment with donated sperm but are waiting for “the right man to
If he doesn’t arrive, they can use them to try to become
pregnant with a sperm donation.
According to the new regulations, the ova
can be defrosted for IVF until the woman reaches a maximum age (at present) of
54 years. Every five years, those with frozen ova have to inform the IVF center
where their eggs are being kept that they want them to remain there. If the
hospital is not informed, the eggs will be destroyed, but women with ova
deposits can donate them to other women who want to get pregnant if the two meet
The ministry regulations do not prevent lesbian women
aged 30 to 41 from freezing their eggs, said Hibner, as any woman in the
stipulated age group who fills out a form applying for the arrangement can
undergo the procedure.
The cost of freezing and storing eggs for
nonmedical reasons “will not be cheap – it will be in the thousands of shekels –
but cheaper than if done abroad,” said Hibner.
IVF units in all the
country’s general hospitals will have to inform the ministry of the number of
such arrangements and the number or pregnancies and deliveries achieved with
Hibner last year told The Jerusalem Post that “we believe it will
reduce the demand for donated ova, which are in very short supply. The ministry
will prepare posters to explain to women that storing ova for later use will not
guarantee that they will become pregnant, as success rates are far from 100
The legal adviser predicted that women who were busy with a
career and wanted to get pregnant later would not be a significant group among
those getting the procedure done. In fact, a relevant sector will be single
religious women who have not found husbands yet and don’t want to wait until
their ova are “too old” to produce healthy babies.
rabbinical arbiters have opposed single women freezing eggs, while other
prominent ones – especially in the national religious sector – have reluctantly
agreed to it. At the recent conference of the Puah Institute for Fertility
According to Halacha, Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior (who is national
religious) said women are not – unlike men – halachicly obliged to have
“If a child is born without a father figure, there can be
negative characteristics; this is not the solution.”
If they don’t find a
proper match, they can always adopt an existing child, he suggested.
suggested that the institute would be well advised to set up a nonprofit
matchmaking service to help women in their 20s and 30s to find a
But Puah founder and director Rabbi Menachem Burstein has been
quoted as saying that while it was preferable for women to marry and then get
pregnant the natural way, it was better to freeze one’s eggs and wait for a
husband than to use a sperm donation to produce a baby when single.