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One Child Policy? Definitely not in Israel

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One of the greatest advantages of working at the Law Library’s Global Legal Research Center is the ability to interact with experts in foreign law from around the globe and learn from their legal experience. Having visited China ten years ago, and having appreciation for the long and impressive history of that country, I particularly regretted missing our own Chinese law expert, Laney Zhang’s Power Lunch last week on China’s “one child policy.” I am thankful to Laney who has graciously briefed me over coffee on the highlights of her talk and to Hanibal Goitom, our blog team member (an expert on African law in his own right) who so eloquently reported on her presentation in his June 27th blog post. Both Laney and Hanibal may have interesting views on reproductive rights policies in light of African and Chinese demographic trends and I would certainly be interested in discussing what policies exist in African countries with Hanibal.

China’s reproductive rights policy as described by Laney stands in full contrast to that of Israel. Compared to the estimated 1.3 billion Chinese population, Israel’s 7.7 million population seems tiny. As a homeland for Jews, Israel’s reproductive care policy appears to reflect Jewish religious, cultural, and social norms regarding fertility.  Parenthood is considered a basic human right based on biblical and other Jewish religious sources.  The personal desire to parenthood, and specifically to motherhood, has been engrained in Jewish culture and has been strengthened by the historical persecution of Jews in the Diaspora and particularly the genocide perpetrated against Jews in the Holocaust.  The continuing loss of life in Arab-Israeli wars and as a result of terrorist acts, combined with constant threats to the State’s existence by hostile powers in the region, has also been linked to Israelis’ attitudes regarding procreation.  Israel, therefore, is an example of a state that has adopted a pro-natalist policy with regard to reproductive care.

This policy is manifested by the State’s financing of health care along the continuum from family planning services through childbirth, and is supported by legislation regulating in vitro fertilization (IVF), ova extraction, the use of semen in IVF fertilization, ova donation and allocation, and surrogacy agreements.  A person’s right to procreate has even been recognized in Supreme Court rulings, especially in the leading case of Nachmani v. Nachmani, where the Court held that in the special circumstances of that case the right of a woman to motherhood was superior to her husband’s right not to be a father.

Israeli reproductive rights policies are obviously very different from Chinese policies.

Update: This was originally published as a guest post by Ruth Levush. The author information has been updated to reflect that Ruth is now an In Custodia Legis blogger.



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