Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Health Ministry does not have the authority to ban the operation of independent natural childbirth centers outside hospitals.
The ruling was in response to an appeal filed by a natural childbirth center and a natural childbirth organization against the Health Ministry’s order to close the Beit Yoldot childbirth center. The ministry had ruled that childbirth centers should not be operated outside hospitals and they must be licensed, citing the risks involved in childbirth outside the hospital setting.
In a lengthy 73-page ruling, the judges wrote that childbirth centers where women can give birth without the presence of doctors, using midwives only, are not considered hospitals under the Public Health Ordinance, and therefore the Health Ministry cannot prevent their operation.
The judges quoted the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who vouched for hospitals to be called ‘beit rofiim’ rather than ‘beit cholim’ – literally a “house for sick people.”
“And in conclusion,” the judges wrote. “It’s told about the Lubavitcher Rebbe that he refrained from using the term ‘beit cholim’ and pushed a suggestion for an alternative name – ‘a house of doctors.'”
“In this context, the Rebbe said that ‘the patient got sick at home. Why is he going to this ‘bayis?’ Because the doctors are there. So it’s better and a greater zechus to call it a ‘beis rofiim.'”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)