Israeli ambassador’s surrogate-born infant dies in Nepal
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Israeli ambassador’s surrogate-born infant dies in Nepal

Boy dies after first night in Kathmandu field hospital; MK calls to reform rules governing surrogacy

Illustrative: A Magen David Adom team in Nepal attends to one of four surrogate-born Israeli babies before boarding a Turkish Airlines flight out of the country. (Magen David Adom)
Illustrative: A Magen David Adom team in Nepal attends to one of four surrogate-born Israeli babies before boarding a Turkish Airlines flight out of the country. (Magen David Adom)

An Israeli ambassador said Thursday his infant son died the previous night, a day after being born to a surrogate mother in a Nepal field hospital.

Yossef Levy, Israel’s ambassador to Serbia, wrote on Facebook that the boy, a twin, did not survive his first night after being born in Kathmandu, the capital of the quake-stricken country.

“He died on a strange bed, a tiny infant who didn’t make it two days,” Levy wrote.

Officials of Israel’s Foreign Ministry told Israel Radio that they were working to bring the baby’s surviving twin sister and father to Israel.

The death brought the issue of Israeli couples who go to Nepal for surrogate births back into the spotlight, after Israel rushed to fly home babies after two large earthquakes hit Nepal in past weeks.

Under Israeli law, homosexual couples must go abroad if they wish to have children with a surrogate mother, though calls to reform the legislation multiplied in the wake of the temblors.

“The writing was on the wall,” MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) told the Hebrew-language news site Walla, saying the infant’s death was not surprising given the conditions under which he had been born. “Tremors are still going on in Nepal, and there are still approximately a hundred babies about to be born in the harsh field conditions there.”

Nahmias-Verbin called upon the relevant government ministries to allow any surrogate mother in Nepal who wishes to come to Israel to do so immediately. “It’s the humane and proper thing to do,” she said. “I call upon the authorities to prevent the next disaster.”

Israel’s first surrogacy law came on the books in 1996, and it has not been amended since then. Only heterosexual couples are legally able to use surrogacy in Israel, and there are many restrictions on who can serve as a surrogate. While straight couples must go through an onerous committee process in order to qualify for surrogacy, homosexual couples are left completely out of the system. Consequently, they must look to foreign surrogacy.

According to Victoria Gelfand, a Tel Aviv attorney who specializes in foreign surrogacy, there are few countries in which gay couples can pursue the surrogacy option. Currently, only the United States, Nepal and Mexico are options. India used to be a possibility, but it recently decided to stop issuing visas to homosexual couples. As a result, many have turned to neighboring Nepal.

Renee Ghert-Zand contributed to this report.

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