Saturday, February 4, 2012

IVF and the American Embassy

An article in this weekend's Haaretz reported that the "American embassy and consular officials in Israel are requiring applicants seeking US citizenship for their children to prove parentage in cases where they received fertility treatments."  This bureaucratic nightmare has afflicted both single mothers and married women, and the demands of proof of genetic parentage are almost impossible, as in many cases of sperm and egg donation, the donor remains anonymous.

Ellie Lavi, an American-born JSMBC  who started the organization "&baby makes two," stated that when she went to acquire citizenship for her twins, experienced the following:  "The interviewing officer asked me over a microphone, 'Are these your eggs?'...I was absolutely stunned, humiliated."  The Embassy and US State Department claims that their policy and approach has not changed at all over the years, but rather, Israel as one of the leading countries on the planet in fertility technology, accentuates the issue.

Raphaela has American citizenship since the age of five months, and I remember that the experience was at the very least tiring and infuriating; at a certain point they sent me over to a psychologist, so the woman could asses my veracity and reactions, to make sure I was not a crazy women claiming to be a single mother, using someone else's baby.  If I would have had to provide proof of my fertility treatments, her application would have been refused, as I signed a legal non-disclosure agreement with Hadassah Hospital and the sperm bank.

I find it disturbing that both secular international government offices and the Israeli Rabbinate are trying to link "true" identity, halachic or otherwise, to genetic material rather than to the woman who carried the child for nine months and will raise him/her for the rest of their lives.  With all the cutting edge developments in fertility, the societal aspect of pregnancy and birth is taking several million steps backward.

10 comments:

Amy Charles said...

WHAT? This is insane. Was a consular official named in the story?

This seems at the very least a form of radical discrimination. The only reason they'd know about IVF in these cases is the woman's single status, so they're treating single mothers differently than married mothers. This needs more publicity and/or court until the policy changes. I'd also like to know *when* that policy was put into place.

Doc said...

Amy, if it makes you feel any better, according to the article they are also persecuting couples who could not conceive naturally, and were forced to turn to various fertility treatments.

koshergourmetmart said...

how does the american embassy know you and others used ivf? isn't american law, if one/both parents are american so is the child?

Ariela said...

If a non-American uses an American citizen's sperm or egg for fertility treatment, is the child considered American?
In Judaism a man's legal children are those born to his wife. Doesn't matter who the dad is. It

Doc said...

I believe that the Embassy demands proof of American parentage for both the mother and the father. If you say, "the father is Israeli," they give you a problem. They have the right, by extension, to ask if you have undergone fertility treatments to assess if the child is "yours."
I believe that an American citizen is one born in the States, or on American soil overseas, so if you give birth to your child at the Embassy or Consulate, it probably counts, LOL.

Doc said...

BTW, Ariela, there is a movement now among the Israeli Rabbinite to rule that if a Jewish woman had to used donor (non-Jewish) eggs and her husband's (Jewish) sperm, the babies are considered non-Jewish and will have to undergo conversion at the Bar/Bat Mitzvah age. Even if she carried the baby inside her own womb.

Ariela said...

DOc, that is just outragous. I do not believe that genetics determines parentage. Carying a baby for 9 months definitely constitutes motherhood, no matter where the egg comes from

tesyaa said...

Do you mean to say if an American woman and an Israeli man have a child in Israel, the child does not have the automatic right to be an American citizen?

I was born in England 45 years ago to an American father and English mother. I still have my original "certification of birth of a citizen abroad" that I occasionally need to haul out in place of a birth certificate (my English birth certificate is useless in the United States). I really didn't think the law had changed.

Commenter Abbi said...

Agree with Tesyaa, I don't fully understand this. It is possible to get citizenship for your children if only one parent is America. American grandparents can even confer citizenship on their grandchildren.

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