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Surrogacy in Israel

Surrogacy in Israel

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Published by mslula
Review of book on gestational surrogacy in Israel in the Jerusalem Post
http://www.jpost.com/HealthAndSci-Tech/ScienceAndEnvironment/Article.aspx?id=172370

'Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self'
by Elly Teman
University of California Press, February 2010

Sample chapter available on book website:
http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn...
For a 20% discount enter code: 10M9071
Review of book on gestational surrogacy in Israel in the Jerusalem Post
http://www.jpost.com/HealthAndSci-Tech/ScienceAndEnvironment/Article.aspx?id=172370

'Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self'
by Elly Teman
University of California Press, February 2010

Sample chapter available on book website:
http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn...
For a 20% discount enter code: 10M9071

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: mslula on Apr 16, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/21/2010

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S
ince Israel’s pathfinding surrogacy law – the first inwhich government supervises women being paidto gestate the embryos and deliver the babies of couples unable to have their own – was passed in1996, about 350 children have been born. A few heart-warming stories about childless couples becoming par-ents and some sensational ones about surrogates whoregretted their role have hit the media, but there hasbeen no objective assessment of how the law has beenimplemented and how it affected those involved.At least until now. A comprehensive, 361-page, Eng-lish-language masterpiece on surrogacy by an Israelisocial anthropologist, Dr. Elly Teman, has just beenpublished by the University of California Press(www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/11401.php). Academicand well-researched, moving and sensitive,
 Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self 
con-cludes that the law was well designed and is being fair-ly implemented.Around the world, some feminists have denouncedsurrogacy for allegedly taking advantage of the womenwho bear the babies, while others have claimed it is“abnormal” for a surrogate to forgo a baby she carried,even if it was not her biological child.Although Teman writes in the world’s first “ethno-graphic study” on the subject that “surrogacy does havethe potential to exploit women..., the voices of surro-gates counter automatic presumptions of exploitation byshowing that a majority achieve a degree of appreciationthrough surrogacy that they do not get otherwise frompartners or from society at large.”At the same time, despite fears of opponents, Temanfound that surrogacy arrangements in Israel did noth-ing to erode the nuclear family; instead, it reflectedIsrael’s conservative approach to reproduction andreflected the pro-birth ideology of a mostly Jewishsociety facing dangerous enemies.Teman, who was born in Brooklyn, New York andraised in Portland, Oregon, was brought to Israel as ateenager. After completing her military service andtraveling in the Far East, she began her studies at theHebrew University, where she completed a doctoratein social anthropology.SHE FIRST became interested in the topic about twoyears after the law was passed, and soon after the deliv-ery at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center of the first surro-gate children – girl and boy twins – in February 1998. Asa graduate student in anthropology, she worked as aninterpreter for visiting US law Prof. Kelly Weisberg, whocame to Hebrew University to do research about her ownbook,
The Birth of Surrogacy in Israel
. One day, Temanaccompanied Weisberg to an interview with “Yael,” whoas a woman who could not carry her own embryos todelivery lobbied for the law; she and her husband latercontracted a single woman to carry their baby. Temanwrites in her book ($55 hardcover/$22 softcover) thatalthough she had never given such a situation muchthought, she was “profoundly touched” by Yael’s per-sonal story and became good friends with her, ultimate-ly deciding to devote eight years to inter-viewing many of the surrogates and“intended mothers.”Her book is the result of 43 in-depth, formal conversationswith 26 surrogates and 45interviews with 35 intendedmothers; most of theseencounters took place inthe interviewees’ homes,and often included look-ing at home videos andphoto albums. In somecases, she spoke to boththe surrogate and thewoman who was to takehome the baby. She was alsoin touch with some of theintended mothers and surro-gates during the pregnancy andafter the births, and in contact inperson or by e-mail with “two-thirds”of those involved in Israeli surrogacyarrangements between 1998 and the end of 2005. The academic nature of the work is demonstratedby her 60 pages of notes and bibliography.Teman and her husband Avi currently live in Philadel-phia with their two children, Uriel and Rachela, whileshe is working as a research fellow at the Penn Center forIntegration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies at theUniversity of Pennsylvania. They intend to return hometo Israel after concluding her postdoctoral work.CONTRARY TO the image of surrogates as being desper-ate women who undergo the implantation of embryosof a couple just for the roughly $25,000 payment, Temanfound that about 30 percent were Israeli middle-tolower-middle-class who worked at a steady job, ownedcars and lived in pleasant homes. They usually lived withboyfriends and decided to be a surrogate to provide“extras” for their family. About half were lower-class sin-gle parents, divorced, widowed or never married, whothought the money would give them a “financial pushforward.” The rest, said the author, lived in delapidatedapartments in poor areas and thought surrogacy wouldbe a better way to pay their bills than, say, selling a kid-ney. Teman said the economic and class differencesbetween Israeli surrogates and intended mothers werequite a bit smaller than their counterparts in the US,where surrogacy is arranged privately and for muchhigher sums. The would-be surrogate must be currentlyunmarried, have at least one child of her own, must nothave miscarried or delivered prematurely, and be free of psychological or physical problems.UNLIKE COMMERCIAL arrangements in other countrieswhere surrogacy is not illegal, the intended mothers arenot rich career women who want children but don’twant to be bothered (or become “misshapen”) by preg-nancy. All of them have undergone many failed in-vitrofertilization (IVF) cycles, miscarried many times andwere born without or lost their uterus due to disease.Some had no healthy ova of their own and had to obtaindonor eggs to be fertilized by their husbands’ sperm.Under the law, all intended parents have to be hetero-sexual and married, with the writtenagreement approved by a HealthMinistry committee and recog-nized by a court. No Muslim orChristian Arabs have beensurrogates or intended par-ents, as Islamic law pro-hibits surrogacy, andstrong stigmas surroundthe practice in the Chris-tian Arab community,Teman writes. However,a homosexual couplerecently petitioned theHigh Court to give theKnesset the authority toallow them to apply as well.The contract worked outby the two parties includesmany details, possibly includ-ing whether the surrogate canwork or smoke, and what she maynot eat or do during the pregnancy,what happens if she miscarries or the baby is borndefective, how she is paid, and other important details.While the pre-surrogacy supervision is stringent, thestate avoids intervention during most of the pregnancy.But at delivery (either vaginal or in many cases by cesare-an section), the baby is whisked off and given to theintended mother (who sometimes is hospitalized in thematernity ward) and her husband, while the surrogate isrolled into the gynecology department until her dis-charge. The baby immediately and officially becomes thenatural child of the couple (who like the surrogatereceive a maternity allowance) and is entered into theiridentity cards.Teman stresses that while the Orthodox religiousestablishment in Israel might have been expected tofight legal surrogacy, opposition was overcome by Judaism’s highly positive views of having childrenand using almost any means to achieve this. Added tothis imperative is Israel’s national culture of increas-ing the population.Surrogacy and taking home one’s biological baby aredescribed by many participants interviewed as powerfulexperiences that change lives. “And that’s why I say, Ididn’t just give birth to a baby; I gave birth to a mother,”declares Tamar, a surrogate, even before the volume’stext begins. “I always say my mother gave birth to methe first time; she gave me life. But my surrogate gave melife the second time,” says Shlomit, an intended mother.The IVF procedure and embryo transfer are quite com-plicated, requiring a series of rather painful hormoneshots in the buttocks of the biological mother to ripenher ova, which are fertilized in a glass dish by her hus-band’s sperm. The surrogate too undergoes shots to coor-dinate her reproductive system with that of the biologi-cal mother so her uterus will be maximally prepared toreceive the embryo(s).IN A VERY interesting chapter, the author explains thatthe surrogates she interviewed have a different vocabu-lary and use special metaphors for parts of their bodies toseparate themselves from the commissioning couples’fetuses. One called herself an “oven that bakes the breadfor hungry people. I just help them... Like if my friendneeded a loan, I would save from my own food, and Iwould give her a loan. Would they
then
say I am beingused?” Another surrogate said she was “someone with awomb, a good womb ... I just held [the fetuses] in mybelly, like an incubator... I was their incubator for ninemonths... And the second that they were born, I finishedthe job and that was it.”Many of the surrogates described their commissionedpregnancy as very different physically from when theybore their own child – little or no nausea or food urges,for example. It was as if their womb belonged to someoneelse, and their emotions toward the fetus were nonexist-ent. In no case did any surrogate chronicled by Temanexpress a desire to keep the baby they had delivered.The relationships between surrogates and intendedparents were often very close, especially between thewomen. Some said they would do anything for the bio-logical mother and felt the need to update her daily onwhat she felt so that the mother – who could neverbecome pregnant – would be able to “experience” it.Some of the commissioning mothers developed symp-toms of pregnancy – even high levels of pregnancy hor-mones – as a way of entering their future role. Theyinvariably fondle the belly of their surrogate to feel fetalmovements and hear the heartbeats and drive the surro-gates to tests and spoil them. Sometimes even the fatheris allowed by the surrogate to be present for vaginal ultra-sound scans, not to mention the birth. But in somecases, the relationship becomes very sticky, and Temandescribes cases in which the couples develop severe psy-chological dependence and make too many demands,forgetting the boundaries of the surrogate’s self. Yet somesurrogates also worry about the sudden disconnectionfrom the couple, fearing they will lose them as friends.Surrogate e-mail forums and Web sites often carry suchstories and give advice to avoid the minefields.Teman notes that the law has its drawbacks, includingthe directive that surrogates must be single women, thatgay couples and single persons cannot hire surrogates,and that intended mothers must first have made repeat-ed IVF attempts to prove their candidacy. “However, thelegislation also protects surrogates, couples and theresultant child. The government ensures that parties arediligently screened and that all contracts are valid.” It isthe quality of the surrogate’s relationship with the cou-ple that largely determines her satisfaction with theexperience. The Israeli surrogacy law, minus some of therestrictions required by Jewish law, could serve as amodel for other countries, the author concludes.
HEALTH&SCIENCE
6
SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 2010 THE JERUSALEM POST
Womb to let 
An Israeli anthropologist declares that the 1996 Surrogacy Law,which helps couples unable to produce children to be parents,is a success despite fears.Judy Siegel-It
 
zkovichreports
(Tsipora Ivry)
DR. ELLY TEMAN

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