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Israel: biological mother recognised as parent in landmark surrogacy decision

12 March 2012
Appeared in BioNews 648

A Tel Aviv Family Court judge has set a precedent by recognising a woman whose twins were born via a surrogate as the legal parent.

Although Israeli law allows for legal parenthood status arising from surrogacy agreements made in Israel no law covers parents who use overseas surrogates. In this case the children were born in Georgia and previously the mother would have had to apply for adoption to be recognised as the parent.

Following this ruling, mothers of children delivered by surrogate mothers will only need to complete a DNA test to confirm that the baby is theirs. This route to legal parenthood was previously only available to the father.

Overseas surrogates are commonly used by prospective Israeli parents to save money and time. According to the Haaretz newspaper, this was true for the couple in the current case. They had trouble in the past with a difficult pregnancy and decided to use IVF and a surrogate in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The couple asked for approval early on for a joint DNA test to confirm their legal parent status but the Israeli state prosecutor's office requested they withdraw their application and undergo a paternity test which would allow the twins to be brought to Israel. The mother could then adopt the children.

But as Georgian law accepts the biological mother as the legal parent of children carried by a surrogate, the parents were able to obtain birth certificates for the twins which showed them as the parents.

Had they hidden their use of a surrogate mother, the couple would have been able to register the twins without a problem on the grounds of having valid overseas birth certificates. They decided, however, to wait for the court's decision.

Ultimately Judge Shifra Glick was clear in her ruling. 'That a biological mother must adopt her natural children', she said, 'is intolerable and defies common sense'.

According to The Jerusalem Post, she added that while Israel has no laws about overseas surrogacy, the current laws should not act against Israeli citizens who use it.

After the decision was announced, the father said: 'It's wonderful that justice was finally served, after fighting for so many months. We are very happy, but we still have to wait for the Interior Ministry – we hope it doesn't delay the DNA test'.

Court: Surrogate twins' mother needn't adopt
Jerusalem Post |  7 March 2012
Israeli moms won't have to adopt babies born to surrogates
Haaretz |  7 March 2012
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