Ova donation bill set to pass in Knesset

Donor woman to be Halachic mother.

pregnant woman 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [illustrative])
pregnant woman 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [illustrative])
The bill regulating ova donation – which has been in the making for adecade – is finally expected to pass in the Knesset on its second andthird reading within a few weeks and come into effect half a yearlater, according to Health Ministry legal adviser Mira Huebner.
She told The Jerusalem Post that on Monday she will present the billto the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to get recognition ofcontinuity from the previous Knesset, which passed it on its firstreading and then got stuck in disagreement.
She said that since Deputy Health Minister MK Ya’acov Litzman – a Gurhassid representing United Torah Judaism – began to study the bill upontaking office, he has become a strong advocate, as he realized that theabsence of such a bill would be very harmful. “I am sure it will beapproved, as we have a majority behind it,” said Huebner, who preparedthe first version of the bill a decade ago. Only small changes havebeen made since then, she said, even though the bill has been inpreparation by a number of ministers.
As some leading rabbinical arbiters have changed their views in thepast few decades on who is regarded by Jewish law as the halachicmother when the ova are taken from non-Jewish women, the bill statesthat the mother who receives the ova, conceives by in-vitrofertilization and gives birth will have to be told if the eggs did notcome from a Jewish donor.
For years, the woman who gave birth was considered the mother by Jewishlaw, but now, many but not all arbiters believe the donor of thebiological material is the mother. Thus the resulting infant would not,in their view, be Jewish unless converted. “The law will not make thethe conversion of the child who is conceived from the ova of a non-Jewmandatory, but the couple will have to be told that there may behalachic problems; they will be asked to consult with their ownrabbis,” said Huebner, who added that she hoped the new law will leadto the donation of many more ova, which are now almost unavailableexcept from abroad.
“I am very happy that the bill is about to become law. It’s one of themost complex pieces of legislation I have worked on due to its ethical,commercial, legal, religious and medical implications,” Huebner said.
The ministry legal adviser has gone to a variety of leading rabbisincluding Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to explain the bill.
The problems caused by the shortage of Israeli donor eggs werehighlighted last summer when Israelis running a fertility clinic inRomania were arrested after being suspected of marketing ova boughtfrom poor Romanian women and sold at a high profit to Israeli womendesperate for ova.
The bill will change the situation in which only women undergoingfertility treatment themselves are able to donate ova they do not need.
A few years ago, gynecologist and fertility expert Prof. ZionBen-Raphael, then of the Rabin Medical Center, was convicted for“stealing” extra eggs from his patients without their knowledge. He wasfound to have overstimulated their ovaries with drugs so that theywould produce an excess of ripe eggs for extraction. That case led toaction on the government bill and discouraged many women from givingeggs for altruistic reasons – thus causing the severe shortage of humanova for donation.