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Israel court rules lesbian couple can both be recognized as mothers

Israel's Ramat Gan Family Court ruled Sunday that a lesbian couple can both be recognized as mothers of a child they had together. The women received permission from the Health Ministry [official website] in 2006 to conceive the child by fertilizing one woman's egg with the sperm of an anonymous donor and implanting the embryo in the other woman's uterus. When the child was born in 2007, the Interior Ministry [official website, in Hebrew] would only recognize the woman who had given birth as the child's legal mother and advised the other woman to initiate adoption proceedings. The women instead opted to challenge that decision in court. Judge Alyssa Miller granted [Haaretz report] the couple's motion Sunday, finding that it would defy logic and common sense to deny parental rights to both women. The couple's lawyer welcomed the ruling [Ynet News report], noting that there are several similar cases currently pending before Israeli courts. However, the precedential effect of the ruling may be limited, as the Health Ministry banned the transfer of eggs last year.

Courts throughout the US and across the globe have struggled to define parental rights for same-sex couples. Last month a Massachusetts court ruled that same-sex couples who marry and have a baby via artificial insemination are bound by the same child custody laws [JURIST report] as heterosexual couples. In January an Iowa court ordered that the Department of Public Health must include both names [JURIST report] of married same-sex parents on children's birth certificates, causing one expert to opine that the arguments made in the public debate surrounding the case demonstrate a break from the goals of the early gay rights movement and could be used to justify discrimination [JURIST op-ed] against other forms of non-traditional families. In October the US Supreme Court [official website] denied certiorari [JURIST report] in Adar v. Smith [backgrounder], in which a same-sex couple asked Louisiana to include both of their names on the birth certificate of their adopted child. That same month, a Canadian court granted legal rights to a non-biological father of a child—the ex-partner of the biological father—over the biological father in a child custody case.

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