An Israeli Supreme Court justice has criticised the country's laws on surrogacy as 'apparently discriminatory', while postponing a long-awaited ruling on a surrogacy petition pending draft legislation.
The case was brought two years ago to allow same-sex couples and single parents to undergo surrogacy in the country. Currently only heterosexual couples can undergo surrogacy in Israel and same-sex couples must enter surrogacy arrangements abroad, which can often involve significant financial costs.
But in his last ruling before his retirement, Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran said that there was 'no justification to prefer heterosexual parentage to same-sex parents'.
'I find it difficult to accept a situation in which single parents and same-sex couples are prevented from exercising their right to become parents by surrogacy contracts, while their heterosexual counterparts are given that right,' he said.
However, Justice Joubran added that 'the time had not yet come to decide a final decision on the petition,' given that draft legislation was currently making its way through Israel's parliament, the Knesset.
The court chose to defer its final ruling for six months to give the Knesset time to consider the bill, which intends to give single women access to surrogacy using their own eggs if they are unable to carry a pregnancy for medical reasons.
The bill has passed its first reading but if made into law, it would not assist the petitioners since in its current form the bill does not extend to same-sex couples or single men.
The comments by Justice Joubran in support of widening access to surrogacy could result in further amendments to the bill, however, and the court is yet to issue its ruling.
'On the question of defining eligible parents, I am sure that the lawmakers will heed the continuing suffering of the petitioners and will act with due efficacy to complete the legislative process,' Justice Joubran said.
A previous attempt to introduce legislation to extend surrogacy to same-sex couples in 2014 failed to pass before the Knesset was dissolved (see BioNews 757).