Surrogacy, like job-sharing, bicoastal relationships, and in vitro fertilization, is a late 20th century baby-boomer response to wanting it all but perhaps not always being able to. As the author notes, the surrogacy movement in America began in 1976 with an ad from — where else — Berkeley, California, offering cash in return for producing a child with the husband’s sperm in another woman’s body. From this beginning sprung a cottage industry. It took until 1996 for the Israeli Knesset to enact a law legalizing surrogacy, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. This book discusses the history of how that legislation came to be.
The book is a well-written, nicely detailed history of how surrogacy came to be regulated in Israel. The volume is quite readable, often illustrated with actual cases that tend to humanize the process, from Israel’s early prohibition on surrogacy, through the formation of a committee that eventually led to the Surrogate Motherhood Agreements Act. The author is to be commended for making a complex subject understandable to the lay reader. This is yet another example of where, if someone looks deeply enough, there is usually Talmudic precedent to help solve halakhic dilemmas that inevitably arise with each generation of new technology.