Man wants child from dead wife's embryos

A-G deliberates on widowed would-be dad.

By
June 30, 2010 06:24
2 minute read.
Women who prefer at-home births may soon receive t

baby with mother 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Health Ministry would not comment Tuesday on charges that it has refused to allow a 40- year-old man to use his late wife’s embryos to produce their genetic children using a surrogate mother.

The man, N., whose wife died last year, has expressed her wishes that after her passing, the frozen embryos – produced in difficult fertility treatments – be implanted in a surrogate to produce children.

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The ministry declined to comment, saying that Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein is dealing with the issue and that the ministry’s legal adviser could not express its opinion until Weinstein’s is released.

Irit Rosenblum, the director of the New Family organization who is also a lawyer, maintained that the government was guilty of “unjustified delay and infringements of the right to swift legal process.”

The couple tried for years to achieve pregnancy and underwent a series of fertility treatments to fulfill their dream of becoming parents. Before N.’s wife contracted cancer, a number of embryos were produced and frozen for later use at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center, but she died. A few months ago, after she had signed the required legal documents ensuring her desire for their embryos to be implanted in the womb of a surrogate – even in the event of her death – New Family asked the hospital for the embryos.

Ministry officials, said Rosenblum, initially replied that the necessary procedure was not available in Israel, although they agreed that there was no law against giving N. custody of the embryos. So he searched for a foreign surrogate and paid a large sum of money. But when he returned to the hospital to begin the procedure, the ministry retracted its statement that the embryos belonged to him, Rosenblum added. This sudden reversal caused N. “significant emotional and financial damage.”

New Family said this was “unacceptable discrimination between the right of a man to parenthood and of the right of a woman to parenthood. It’s not clear how ministry officials have taken over a person’s body and his embryos and are keeping from him what belongs to him and in practice, his entire world and dreams,” Rosenblum said.

She wrote a letter to Weinstein and to the State Attorney’s Office, but has not yet received a response.

“Every day that passes will not return N.’s youth; he just wants to be a parent. People do not have the right to deny other people the right to be a parent to their own flesh and blood. N. has not asked the state to finance the surrogacy arrangement, and it has already been determined that he is the sole owner of his own genetic material,” Rosenblum wrote.


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