Photo Credit: Moondance from Pixabay

“Hi, I am Dr. Itamar Zilberman Ron, I deal in fetal medicine and ultrasound, father of two-and-a-half-year-old Eitan and husband of Or,” posted a gay specialist at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah on the Billinson Maternity Club Facebook page. “I came out of the closet at the age of 26 because for years I feared that it would be difficult for me to find my place and start my own family. In recent years, I have been volunteering to accompany pregnancy for LGBT couples who wish to start their own family through surrogacy processes abroad. My message for this month: everyone is equal, there is love and acceptance for everyone. Keep dreaming big, this is the way to create a world that is a dream.”

Sounds wonderful. But wait, there’s more:


According to an Israel Hayom report on Sunday, for the first time in Israel, gay couples and single men who arrive at the hospital with a surrogate will be admitted to the maternity ward at Beilinson Hospital. The initiative suggests that in the case of a same-sex couple, one of them will be hospitalized in the ward and the other will be his companion, while the surrogate will be hospitalized in the women’s ward.

The hospitalized couple will receive close supervision and guidance from the medical team, like any couple about to give birth. According to the hospital management, the new policy includes making adjustments to the procedures.

In July 2021, Israel’s Supreme Court issued a historical ruling according to which gay couples as well as single men will be able to enter a surrogacy agreement in Israel, a privilege that used to be exclusive to heterosexual couples. In January 2022, the Knesset updated the surrogacy law (Law on Agreements for the Carrying of Embryos 1996), so that same-sex couples can engage in surrogacy. Before the law was amended, many same-sex couples, especially men, could enter surrogacy procedures only outside of Israel (most commonly in the US and India) – a particularly expensive and complicated process.

This is why Dr. Itamar Zilberman Ron is so happy, and I suppose anyone’s natural impulse would be to rejoice when any human being is blessed with the gift of parenthood.

But Beilinson’s decision to allot family rooms to “birth fathers” goes a little far in the direction of silliness, as well as a huge waste.

According to a 2019 Taub Center survey, the average occupancy rate of the hospitals in Israel is unusually high and stands at 94%, compared to 75% on average in other OECD countries. The situation is worse in Israel’s periphery. In the southern and northern periphery, the number of beds per 1,000 people is the lowest, 1.32 and 1.55 respectively. In 2019, Beilinson was on the cusp of being unable to fully serve its community, with only 800 beds.

Things have gotten much, much worse in the four years since that survey.

The cycle of hospital beds in Israel shows a relatively short hospitalization duration: about 5 days per patient, compared to an average of 6.7 days in OECD countries, and an extremely high occupancy rate.

Beilinson must not discriminate against the Petah Tikvah gay community––it would be unethical and illegal. But must it spend its most scarce resources to create a make-believe birthing episode to feed same-sex couples’ fantasies?

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