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Doctor charged with selling ova. Hearing to begin today

By Carolyn E. Price     Feb 4, 2007 in Crime
A gynecologist is charged with illegally harvesting human eggs from fertility patients and selling them to other women.
A gynecologist who is suspected of illegally harvesting human eggs from fertility patients and selling them to other women is due in court today for his disciplinary hearing at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem.
Prof. Zion Ben-Raphael, 57, is accused of taking a total of 497 eggs from six patients at the Herzliya Medical Center without their knowledge or consent, or after he mislead them into obtaining their consent.
Prof. Ben-Raphael served as head of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. He is accused of giving some of his patients dangerously high amounts of hormones in order to produce extra eggs, according to the British Medical Journal.
The scandal was first reported in February 2000 and it is considered to be the worst to have hit the gynecology field in Israel.
The disciplinary complaint was filed in 2006, after Prof Ben-Raphael signed a plea bargain that overturned a 2005 indictment in Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, Under the overturned indictment, the gynecologist was charged with six counts of fraud and obstruction of justice. The obstruction charge stems from a $20,000 payment Prof. Ben-Raphael allegedly made to a police official to try to bribe his way out of the charges.
Health Ministry officials said part of the plea bargain was that Ben-Raphael's medical license would be temporarily revoked for two and a half years. The ministry had previously demanded a five-year revocation.
The final decision on the sanctions Prof. Ben-Raphael will face is up to the disciplinary panel. Prof. Ben-Raphael has hired high-profile lawyers Dr. Yaakov Weinrot and Prof. David Libai to represent him in the case.
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