update deskIsrael News

In first, Israeli hospital to admit gay men to maternity ward

"The hospital is a home for all families, for all gay couples and single fathers," says the director of labor and maternity at Beilinson Hospital.

A couple holds their children, conceived through a surrogate mother, during the Pride Parade in Jerusalem, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. Photo By Hadas Parush/Flash90.
A couple holds their children, conceived through a surrogate mother, during the Pride Parade in Jerusalem, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. Photo By Hadas Parush/Flash90.

For the first time in Israel, the Rabin Medical Center’s Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah will admit to its Labor and Delivery Ward gay couples and single men who arrive with surrogates, Israel Hayom reported on Monday.

In the case of a couple, one of the partners will be admitted to the maternity ward while the other is registered as a companion. The surrogate will be admitted to the Gynecology Unit, according to the report.

The parent or parents-to-be will receive the same supervision and guidance from the medical team as would any expecting couple, though with certain modifications, according to hospital staff.

According to Beilinson’s head maternity nurse Viyulan Karasik, “The natural attachment that is formed during pregnancy between the parents and the fetus occurs in a different way during surrogacy. In order to help the bonding process between the fathers and the baby, creative thought is required.”

Asnat Walfisch, head of Helen Schneider Women’s Hospital at Beilinson, said, “After the surrogacy law for gay couples and single parents was approved in Israel, it was clear to me that we must lead on the issue as a women’s hospital that etches on its banner the empowerment of patients, their autonomy and freedom of choice. I am proud to be a partner in the innovative model we have built here.”

Israel’s Surrogacy Law was amended in January 2022 to include single men and same-sex couples, under then-Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz. The move ended an 11-year legal battle.

“We have waited many years for a move that would allow couples to have children through surrogacy,” said Rony Chen, director of Beilinson’s labor and maternity wards.

“As a member of the LGBT community, I deeply understand the adjustments that need to be made” for this to happen, he continued.

“The hospital is a home for all families, for all gay couples and single fathers. Proud parents will receive the care and the special support we have built for them, which is adapted to the needs of the growing family,” he said.

However, the move has also been criticized as prejudicial to women’s rights.

Dana Varon, a well-known conservative Israeli journalist, said in a video posted online:

“Can someone explain to me why? Because I don’t really get this. The birth is through the surrogate, but they stick her in the gynecology department and not in the maternity ward, as if she’s undergoing a hysterectomy or some other gynecological event that isn’t a birth. And one of the gay couple that isn’t giving birth, him they hospitalize as if he’s a woman giving birth in the maternity ward. This is weird, no?

” … Here, for the first time in Israel, they hospitalize a man in the maternity ward as if there isn’t a shortage of beds and as if it never at any time happened that a woman giving birth received a bed in a corridor until a bed opened up in a room,” she said.

“I wonder until when we will play this game of ‘it seems to be’ and ‘as if.’ Up until what point will we ignore and trample the rights of women in order to advance ‘progress’ and ‘acceptance.'”

Beilinson’s Labor and Delivery Ward told JNS that admitting gay couples to maternity wards is standard practice in other countries and that the hospital wishes to respect and provide privacy to all groups.

The spokesperson further added that gay male couples having a child through a surrogate is a rare event, happening only once every few years.

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