One child, two biological mothers

The court recognises two biological mothers after egg from one woman was removed, fertilized and placed into second woman, reports The Jerusalem Post.

Two women, who were both intrinsically involved in bringing a child into the world, were recognized on Sunday as the child’s biological mothers by the Ramat Gan Family Court, it was announced on Monday.

The couple, who now will not need to go through a long and complicated legal process to both register as the child’s mothers, received approval from the Health Ministry in 2006 for the egg of one woman to be removed, fertilized with donor sperm and placed into the second woman.

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However, while the second woman, or surrogate mother, who gave birth to the child was recognized by the Interior Ministry as the official mother, her partner – who has a genetic link to the child – was told that she would have to legally adopt the baby to also be recognized as an additional mother.

The couple refused to go through the adoption process and three years ago petitioned the court, arguing that if the donor mother had been a man and had filed a paternity suit under similar circumstances, his claim as the child’s biological parent would most likely have been accepted. The two women claimed the fact that their request was turned down due to discrimination on gender grounds.

Judge Alice Miller, who handed down the ruling on Sunday, wrote, “I think recognizing the donor mother as the mother of this child is a positive and essential step; it is also a way to solve a case that has special circumstances.

“Recognizing the genetic mother as a legal additional mother is also consistent with certain halachic [Jewish law] options,” she added, highlighting that allowing the donor mother to exercise her rights as a parent was a humanitarian and natural decision.

Na’ama Tzoref-Halevy, the couple’s lawyer who is an expert on fertility law, welcomed the ruling but warned that it was “a lonely victory.”

She explained that even though her clients were delighted by the ruling and the fact that the barrier to creating their own family had now been removed – due to a recent law aimed at protecting the rights of surrogate mothers – the Health Ministry no longer considers same-sex female couples for such surrogacy arrangements.

Tzoref-Halevy called the ministry’s interpretation of this law as “improper” and called on it to “stop discrimination against same-sex partners and apply the law equally as it does in cases of heterosexual couples.”

She said that there was a wide gap in Israel between advanced fertility technology and the laws that governed such procedures.

Attorney Irit Rosenblum, the executive director of New Family, an organization that champions the rights of Israelis to establish marriages and families outside of the traditional system, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that she has already challenged the Health Ministry’s policy of denying such surrogacy arrangements for lesbian couples.

She said that it was all down to the definition of surrogacy, and that within the context of a same-sex couple who want to share a connection to their child, interpretation of the law in this way is not appropriate.

“The state should advance and bless any same-sex couple that finds a way to be involved genetically or practically in giving birth,” Rosenblum said.

“All efforts that enable both women to be equal parents are for the best of the child,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Health Ministry responded by saying that the egg donors law was designed to help women who had medical problems conceiving. Currently, that law does not allow for egg donation to women that do not have medical problems.