Women with fertility challenges in Israel may soon have more options for having children, Israel Hayom has learned. Israeli law could be amended so that such women will be able to receive fertilization treatment with frozen embryos. Currently, sperm and egg donations are permitted, but using donated frozen embryos is banned.
A committee to examine issues of fertility and birth, led by Hadassah Hospital Director Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, is set to submit recommendations regarding frozen embryos to the Health Ministry.
Israel Hayom has learned that the recommendations will likely stipulate conditions and restrictions for using frozen embryos for couples’ fertility treatment.
Ofra Balaban, chairwoman of the Chen Foundation, which seeks to improve fertility treatments, initiated the proposal to open access for frozen embryos. Balaban believes that with the help of certain laws, infertile and older women could receive a frozen embryo donation and thus be spared the trouble of having to receive two separate donations, an egg as well as sperm.
Couples who have gone through fertility treatments that resulted in frozen embryos are required to instruct the hospitals holding the embryos every five years whether to keep, destroy or donate the embryos for research. The fourth option, to donate embryos to couples or individuals who want children, is currently not available in Israel, although it exists in England. In France, frozen embryo donation is available to married couples.
“There are 150,000 frozen embryos in Israel that are being stored at in vitro fertilization departments in hospitals,” Balaban said. “It is incredibly expensive to maintain them and the country is blocked from accessing them. Nevertheless, there still is an ongoing shortage of egg and sperm donations.” Balaban added that donated embryos should be included in the current adoption laws.
Balaban turned to the chairman of Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health committee, MK Haim Katz (Likud), and he responded with a pledge to help find solutions. “There is no doubt that changes need to be made to the current laws. I intend to hold a meeting on the topic of frozen embryo donation at the Knesset’s health committee,” Katz said.
The Heath Ministry stated in response that it had formed a committee to examine matters of fertility and birth, and that the committee’s work was continuing.