Israeli detainee denies fertility clinic in Romania violated law

Doctor: Raid was like a Hollywood movie; MK Eldad: Incident shows urgency of passing bill to expand ova donations.

surgery surgeon 248.88 courtesy (photo credit: Courtesy of Tel Aviv Universtiy)
surgery surgeon 248.88 courtesy
(photo credit: Courtesy of Tel Aviv Universtiy)
The raid on an Israeli fertility clinic in Bucharest, Romania, on Monday was "like a Hollywood film," one of the doctors who was treating a patient during the police operation told Channel 2 news on Tuesday evening. "A number of masked men burst in with guns drawn. They identified themselves as police immediately, but it was not a pleasant sight," said Prof. Natan Levit, speaking by phone from Romania. Levit is one of four suspects being held over allegedly paying Romanian women to donate their eggs, and transplanting them into Israeli women seeking fertility treatments. Paying women for their ova is illegal in Romania. Two Israeli doctors are in custody, while two others are under house arrest. "A patient was in a very intimate position, in the middle of being treated," Levit added. He denied that the clinic was in breach of Romanian law, saying, "We received the approval that was required. The most recent approval was given two weeks ago. There is no way we contravened Romanian law. On this basis, we brought Israeli women here and did what we did with a good deal of success." Levit said he "did not know what the authorities are claiming against us, other than saying we did something illegal." Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Jerusalem Post that the Israeli Embassy in Romania was working to ensure that the legal rights of the Israeli doctors were being respected and that they had access to legal representation. "We can only monitor and report on what is happening, but we cannot interfere," Palmor said. Earlier, a Romanian court extended the remand of two of the doctors, Harry Mironescu and his son Yair Miron, by 29 days. MK Arye Eldad said Tuesday that the human ova story "points to the urgent need to grant [automatic] continuity to government bills that have been discussed and partially approved by a previous Knesset." Eldad, a plastic surgeon and burns specialist by profession, was referring to the bill initiated and prepared over the past decade by the Health Ministry that would liberalize restrictions on human ova donations. It was prepared for its second and third readings in the previous Knesset but did not proceed due to sudden objections by United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni. Now it has to start from the beginning in the current Knesset. At present, only women who are themselves undergoing fertility treatment may donate the ova they don't need to other women who have no eggs of their own. Altruistic donations by friends or relatives are not permitted due to fears that this would lead to under-the-table sales of ova. However, the shortage of ova over the past few years and a scandal in which a gynecologist actually sold ova taken from his patients minimized the availability of eggs even more. Ministry legal adviser Mira Huebner explained that the bill had taken so long to prepare because of the "enormous complications" involving medicine, ethics, Jewish law, supervision and other factors. The bill will make it easier to donate ova and not restrict the option to women undergoing fertility treatments; donors would also receive some compensation. Eldad and Kadima MK Rahel Adatto, a trained gynecologist, prepared a private members' bill to speed up the process, identical to the government bill. Eldad wrote to Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman, complaining that lack of support from the ministry for granting continuity was holding the government bill up. He predicted the private bill would, in the end, be passed, but only after a "tragic delay" that would hurt hundreds of women waiting to get donated ova and get pregnant.