Israel has always posed many interesting issues relating to oocyte donation. Now, according to the WSJ, things are heating up even more. For example, under current Israeli law, only women already undergoing fertility treatments can donate their eggs, leading to oocyte shortages and reproductive tourism. (For prior Lounge discussions of reproductive tourism by UK couples see here and here).
For example, from the website of IVF@Israel:
Egg donation is subjected to restrictions by the Israeli Ministry of Health. A new "egg donation" law is expected in the "near" future, hopefully. Currently, availability of eggs for donation in Israel is low, since the law limits donation from IVF patients only. However, we do offer egg donation in Kiev Ukraine (a major European airline hub). The IVF in Kiev had received formal recognition by the Israeli Ministry of Health, and is run by Israeli physicians. Donors are healthy, fertile women, who undergo routine tests as recommended by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
When I was teaching a course on Taboo Trades and Forbidden Markets in Israel earlier this year, the country was still reeling from the scandal at an Israeli fertility clinic in Romania. Thirty fertility center employees, including two Israeli physicians, were arrested in connection with allegations that the Sabyc fertility clinic in Romania made payments to human egg donors, a practice which is illegal there.
In part because of these and other scandals, new legislation designed to ease the oocyte shortage in Israel has been introduced, which would expand the pool of eligible egg donors. But, according to the WSJ:
In an effort to win support from the Knesset's ultra-Orthodox factions, the bill also has a provision requiring a woman undergoing fertility treatments in Israel to do so only with eggs from a woman of the same faith.
The debate has raised precarious ethical questions. "The notion that there is Jewish blood is offensive," said Zev Chafets, a former government spokesman who also has written about reproductive medicine in Israel. When people make such a distinction, he says, "'It's not about science; it's about race. It's saying, 'We don't want outsiders, and our criterion is blood.'"
But the legislation is also expected to “increase the already high demand for Jewish eggs in the U.S., and could call into question the religious status of thousands of children born to Jewish women around the world.” In the U.S., there have been reports of a shortage of egg donors from particular ethnic groups, especially Jewish, East Asian and East Indian, with resulting price premia for such donors.
(HT: Danny Sokol)
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