JERUSALEM (Oct. 2)
An Israeli man, ordered by the Supreme Court to grant his estranged wife possession of frozen eggs fertilized with his sperm, has asked a lower court to bar her from continuing the surrogacy process in Israel.
The request marked the latest twist in the drawn-out drama between Danny and Ruti Nahmani, whose headline-making case has been proceeding through the Israeli court system for more than five years.
In a 7-4 ruling last month, the high court said Ruti Nahmani’s right to motherhood superseded Danny Nahmani’s right not to be a father.
Last year, a five-judge panel had ruled in the husband’s favor. The ruling set a precedent with the judges’ decision that the state cannot impose parenthood on men or women.
The couple had married 12 years ago, but remained childless.
After a bout with cancer, Ruti Nahmani had a hysterectomy, and the couple later decided to attempt in vitro fertilization.
At that time, surrogate motherhood was not yet legal in Israel, though a law has since been enacted to make it so.
Danny Nahmani subsequently left his wife and had two daughters with another woman.
After last month’s Supreme Court ruling in her favor, Ruti Nahmani issued an appeal to women in Israel to be surrogates for the fertilized eggs.
In response, Danny Nahmani this week sought to invoke a legal technicality to prevent his wife from continuing the process.
His lawyer, Diana Har Even, said surrogacy legislation, passed in March of this year, requires the parents of the fertilized egg to sign an agreement with the prospective surrogate mother. The agreement is in turn submitted to a Health Ministry committee for approval.
By law, the committee must receive recommendations from a doctor, social worker and psychologists regarding the parties’ suitability to continue the process.
Har Even said the former couple had not begun this process when a court initially ruled in Ruti Nahmani’s favor, the decision that the 11-justice panel upheld last month.
Har Even said the process was established to protect the unborn child, and did not allow the preferences of one parent to be placed before the well-being of the child.
Danny Nahmani said he submitted this request because of the hardships the Supreme Court ruling has caused him.
He said Ruti Nahmani was refusing to grant him a divorce, and that he was still required to pay her monthly support payments of some $700.
He also said all their common property remains in Ruti Nahmani’s possession and that he is now unemployed and unable to support the children he has with his current partner.