On Sunday, March 2, the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved an amendment to the existing surrogacy law, which would allow singles and same-sex couples to have children through surrogacy. The law currently specifies that only heterosexual couples may hire a surrogate mother, while other aspiring parents must go abroad in search of alternative surrogacy options. The bill also stipulates that surrogate mothers are allowed to have no more than three surrogate pregnancies, and must be no older than 38 (as opposed to the previous ceiling of 36). The prospective parents, in turn, must be no older than 54 years at the time of the surrogacy agreement.
The committee’s approval, however, is simply one step in a much longer process. As the Jewish Telegraph Agency reports, “The amendment, which must pass three Knesset votes, is expected to face objections on moral, religious and legal grounds.”
According to Haaretz, the Israeli Health MInistry voiced their concerns about the potential implications of the bill: “The Health Ministry fears that expanding the surrogacy law will create a competitive surrogacy market, which is liable to have two unwanted side effects. High demand would raise the prices of surrogacy in Israel, while surrogacy could become a profession for poor women, effectively turning them into ‘wombs for hire.'”
Despite these complications, those in favor of the amendment are hopeful that the bill will eventually pass, upholding Israel’s reputation as the gay capital of the Middle East (so dubbed by Out Magazine). In fact, the Independent lists Tel Aviv as one of the top five most improved places for gay tolerance, and the New York Times Style Magazine celebrates Tel Aviv for its Gay Pride Week, queer-friendly nightlife, and “tirelessly tolerant” attitude.
Still, only time will tell if same-sex couples will win the fight for surrogacy in Israel or if they will be forced to continue to travel abroad.