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Surrogacy, a blessed alternative for creating a family
Adv. Liat Kreskas
"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1, 28)
In their last meeting with the fertility specialist David and Tehila, a couple in their fifties were notified that after a quarter of a century of complex and painful fertility treatments the two have undergone, Tehila will be unable to conceive.
Yehiel and Mazal, a couple in their thirties, were told that due to complications arising after the birth of their eldest son, Mazal will not be able to conceive again.
David and Rachel, a young couple wishing to be married, consulted Rachel’s OBGYN in order to examine alternatives to childbirth, since Rachel was born with Mayer-Rokitansky Syndrome, a condition characterized by a maldeveloped feminine reproductive system whose afflicted have neither ovules nor a uterus, hence Rachel never being able to conceive. Tehila, Mazal and Rachel came in with their husbands for meetings in my Jerusalem offices in order to receive legal advice on creating their family through a surrogate. Today, more and more women turn to this option, which has become increasingly practical.
The mitzvah of fertility and childbirth is the first such mitzvah mentioned in the Bible immediately after the creation of Adam. It’s further elaborated on this holy commandment that it’s,
“a great mitzvah whose reason encompasses all of the world’s mitzvahs”. Rachel, one of the Jewish people’s four matriarchs, expressed woman’s existential need for childbirth in her talk with Jacob; "[she] said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30, 1)
Many couples are often faced with difficult personal or medical issues resulting in it being hard or impossible to conceive and are therefore in need of a surrogacy process. Most such couples have a long history of complex and exhausting fertility treatments oftentimes due to medical issues on the part of the woman and, many times, of the man.
What is surrogacy?
Surrogacy is a blessed and very real option of birthing a child through and using an additional woman whose capacity is carrying the pregnancy to term and delivering the newborn to the couple, who are its biological parents, immediately following the birth. Surrogacy is a very efficient option enabling straight and gay couples, as well as solitary men or women who for whichever objective reason cannot conceive, to bring a baby into the world and create or expand their families.
Why turn to surrogacy?
Surrogacy is an effective way in which at least one of the two parents is the biological parent of the child being born. In most cases in which the couples are heterosexuals, both parents are
The newborn’s biological parents. It is a worthy, excellent route enabling men and women to realize their dreams of parenthood of a child genetically linked to them.
Surrogacy according to religious Jewish law (Halacha)
The surrogacy procedure brings up many important halachic questions, the main one being what’s its general stance on the procedure? What are the halachic conditions for it going forward? Who’s the baby’s mother, the surrogate who carried it to term or the woman who provided the ovules? Is the baby Jewish? And what’s the answer to the previous question in cases in which the surrogate is a gentile? Should a baby born through surrogacy undergo conversion to Judaism?
The Jewish Halacha has, of course, discussed these moral and religious questions and we, as attorneys who accompany many surrogacy processes, turn to and consult with many rabbinical authority figures, especially with rabbis from Jerusalem’s Puah Institute, who delve into the subject on a daily basis. Generally speaking we can say with absolute certainty that the process of childbirth through the use of a surrogate mother is recognized by the Jewish Halacha and is permitted, with several exceptions. Many rabbis, some of them well-known, agree that this process take place both in Israel and abroad and some of them see no importance in the religious affiliation of the surrogate mother, as their approach states that the newborn isn’t her son but the son of the mother who provided the ovules, with whom he has genetic ties. It’s very important to mention here that any surrogacy process which we
Accompany for its legal aspects and in which the father and mother to be are observant Jews is examined according to the couple’s own needs and after such an examination a unique permission is given to them to go through with the process in accordance with the permission’s terms. It’s also important to mention that Israeli law, the Embryo Carrying Agreements Law – 1996 (known as the surrogacy law), is highly advanced compared to other countries and mostly meets – and does not deviate – from the directives of Halacha.
Surrogacy in Israel
The surrogacy process in Israel has entered law through the aforementioned surrogacy act, which prescribes the terms to carrying out the process in Israel. The law accepts only heterosexual couples, married or with a joint cohabitation agreement. The surroagate must be of the same religious affiliation as the intended mother and preferably unmarried.
The surrogate must not be related to either of the parents and the sperm extracted from the father, as well as the pregnancy itself, must both be achieved strictly through medical means.
The overall cost of going through with the surrogacy process in Israel fluctuates between about NIS 220,000 to NIS 250,000, whereas NIS 160,000-170,000 are the accepted remuneration for the surrogate and the remainder goes towards covering any additional costs and attendant medical and psychological examinations.
Who’s entitled to turn to surrogacy in Israel?
A (married or common law) couple who have been deemed medically incapable of pregnancy or childbirth with the intended mother being no older than 53 when the surrogacy request is made to the committee and no older than 54 when the embryo carrying agreement is signed.
Who may serve as a surrogate in Israel?
A woman willing to perform an “act of grace” who’s age is between 22 and 38. Her medical condition must be sounds and she needs to have already undergone births without complications (at least one and up to a maximum of three) and on term with the infants being of normal birth weight for the age of the pregnancy.
Surrogacy in the world
Many Israelis who don’t fall under the breadth of the law in Israel, such as same sex couples, male or female, couples who are older than the maximal allotted age, those finding it difficult to locate a surrogate fitting the law’s definitions or couples who can’t afford the process’s costs in Israel. For all of the aforementioned individuals, the option of surrogacy abroad exists.
Needless to say, the surrogacy process differs from country to country as each one has its own sets of laws, healthcare system and costs. In the past surrogacy processes were very popular in some far eastern countries such as India and Nepal due to the relatively low costs paid by intended parents and the immediately availability of surrogates. However, this course was closed off to foreign residents and today is even illegal in these countries.
Therefore, when I turn to recommend to a couple or single men/ women on the country they should turn to for surrogacy, and in
order to assist them in selecting the appropriate course of action aboard, I endeavor to receive all of the relevant details in order to make an informed decision. An informed decision should steer us clear of the problems and difficulties which may cause this process to fail and bring about loss of funds and additional stress and anguish.
|Same sex couples||Same sex couples|
|Price range (in USD)||$120,000
|Waiting time of two to six
|Waiting time of three to six
* All prices are in US dollars.
With the selection of the appropriate surrogacy track we move onto a quick series of medical and legal examinations, establishing contact with a surrogacy agency, selecting the actual surrogate, occasionally selecting an ovule donor, selecting a fertility clinic and so on, all of which will be expounded upon in our next article.
Tehila, Mazal and Rachel now embrace a child with their husbands and David and Rachel have recently contacted us again wishing to start an additional surrogacy process.
There is no happier area of practicing law than accompanying couples through surrogacy processes, each and every baby is a masterpiece of creation and a tikkun olam and we are so fortunate to have been able to help in their creation.
Who are we?
The Law firm of Mor and Co. is a boutique Jerusalem law firm specializing in accompanying couples wishing to hold surrogacy processes in Israel or abroad and accompanying women wishing to serve as surrogates in processes taking place in Israel.
Adv. Y igal Mor and Adv. Liat Kreskas accompany and help steer each one of our clients according to their needs and help them find the right, appropriate way to achieve their goal. We work with different surrogacy agencies both in Israel and abroad.
In addition, we assist couples wishing to carry out this process in accordance with the Jewish laws and traditions and are therefore in direct contact with the Puah Institute. We also run the surrogacy forum on the lawGuide website.
We may be contacted by email:
Our website: www.MorLawOffice.com
The Jerusalem Post • October 2016 • JPost Style I 19