The Birth of Sur­ro­ga­cy in Israel

D. Kel­ly Weisberg
  • Review
By – July 16, 2012

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. 

Paul M. Arnold, MD, is pro­fes­sor of neu­ro­surgery and direc­tor of the Spinal Cord Injury Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas.

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