Israeli Supreme Court reconsiders the fate of frozen embryos

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JERUSALEM — Israel's Supreme Court has decided to reopen deliberations on the fate of the frozen embryos of an estranged Israeli couple.

On Wednesday of last week, Aharon Barak, president of the court, was among the 6-3 majority that decided that the case could be heard, though a ruling was already issued on a previous petition.

On March 30, a panel of five justices had ruled that Ruti Nahmani could not continue efforts to have a child by having one of the fertilized eggs implanted into a surrogate mother. Before she and her husband, Danny Nahmani, split, both had wanted a child via a surrogate mother.

The case had set precedent in that the court ruled that the state cannot impose parenthood upon women or men.

Shortly before his retirement as president of the Supreme Court, Meir Shamgar said an 11-member panel should rehear the case because of the issue's importance and legal precedence.

Ruti Nahmani, who is unable to have children because of an operation, said the decision to reopen deliberations gave her "new hope that I can still have this child."

Danny Nahmani said he felt that the new decision challenged the whole foundation of the democratic system.

"I am disappointed, both because of my personal predicament as well as as a citizen," he told Israel Radio.

Danny Nahmani, who has since had children with another woman, objected to the continuation of the process he started with Ruti Nahmani, saying that he did not want to be coerced into fatherhood.

The hearings are to be closed, with both sides submitting documents to argue their case.

A 1987 ordinance forbids surrogate motherhood in Israel. In 1991, the couple had arranged for a surrogate mother in the United States.