Israeli couples worried for fate of surrogate newborns in Nepal

Dozens of Israeli couples waiting for surrogate mothers to give birth in Nepal seeking to fly them out to Israel, but Justice Ministry says it fears legal repercussions.

Itamar Eichner
Published: 04.26.15, 14:56 / Israel News

Dozens of Israeli couples waiting for surrogate mothers in Nepal to give birth are concerned about the delivery of their long-awaited babies after the country was struck by a powerful earthquake on Saturday, leaving only a small number of hospitals still functional.

Over the past day, officials from the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and Justice Ministry have held heated debates about the proper course of action regarding the cases of the surrogate mothers in Nepal who are expected to give birth in the coming days and weeks.

Four Israeli couples have filed an official request to Interior Minister Gilad Erdan to fly out the mothers to Israel and allow them to give birth to the child in the country.

While Erdan answered in the affirmative, it soon became clear that the decision was not under his authority. The Justice Ministry says that many legal difficulties are associated with the process, including issues of human trafficking.

The surrogate mothers with whom the Israeli couples have arrangements are Indian citizens, whose country’s laws forbid them from giving birth in its territories. Despite that, the couples, as well as Israeli representatives, are examining the possibility of flying out the surrogate mothers to India ahead of the delivery date.

On Sunday afternoon, the Deputy Attorney General is expected to hold a discussion on the issue in which a decision is expected to be made. Minister Erdan aims to obtain permission for the mothers to board an IAF flight returning to Israel from Nepal Sunday night.

Another option being examined is for the women to sign a document in which they pledge to return to their country after having given birth.

The surrogacy procedure and paternity confirmation in Israel is complicated. According to the law, if the babies are born to a Nepalese surrogate mother, the newborn is a Nepalese citizen. In order to allow for their flight to Israel, a DNA test must be performed to prove the father is an Israeli citizen. Only then will the Israeli embassy issue the newborn an Israeli passport.

Erdan directed the ministry to remove all potential obstacles in order to allow for the newborns’ speedy transportation to Israel.

Currently, the Foreign Ministry is attempting to coordinate the move with Nepalese officials, hoping to resolve the matter by Sunday night.

Yaron Kirner, the father of a two-week old baby born from a surrogacy arrangement, who is in Nepal along with several other Israeli couples, told Ynet, “The situation here is terrible. We’ve had a period of cold nights and a major catastrophe happened. Everything here collapsed. The staff of the hotel where we stayed lost their homes. Now they rushed us out to an open area and we are here with the babies, and the ground keeps on moving. We have seven two-week old babies and they are all staying out in the open area.”

“The hotel doesn’t have electricity, only an electrical generator that breaks down all the time, and there are rationed amounts of food. In the morning hours today, the hotel staff told us to run outside due to fears of an aftershock, and we’ve been outside since then,” he added.

Kirner went on to say that “the consul came yesterday to see how we were doing. We were invited to the consulate but were told not to enter the structure, and we understood that we couldn’t stay as all the buildings were ramshackle… the situation is difficult. All the doctors have fled to their homes.”

Another parent currently in Nepal, Israeli musician Ohad Hitman, said that while parents were able to rescue their newborns from the NICU before its second floor collapsed, they were now without medicine or hot formula and needed help from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Israeli musician Ohad Hitman and his partner with their newborn premature twins in Nepal.
Israeli musician Ohad Hitman and his partner with their newborn premature twins in Nepal.

“I do not know how we will make it through the night here because we are almost through with our supplies,” he said.

Alon Ketzef, the CEO of DavidShield , a health insurance company providing services to a number of the Israeli parents in Nepal, said: “A team of doctors and paramedics landed in Bangkok, Thailand at noon. There is a plane on the ground with baby supplies and medicine. It will depart within the hour to join the parents and babies. I believe that the team will reach the parents by 6 pm, Israel time.”