Israel's High Court of Justice has ruled that Yigal Amir, the assassin who killed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, will be allowed to father a child using artificial insemination (AI). Amir was jailed for life without parole following the murder and married Larissa Trimbobler by proxy in 2004. The prison does not allow conjugal visits. The case was brought as former Knesset Members Neta Dobrin and Ronen Tzur petitioned against the ruling by the Israeli Prison Service that would allow Mr Amir to father a child. Their petition was rejected, allowing Mr Amir and Ms Trimbobler to proceed with AI treatment. Amir, an ultra-nationalist Jew, has shown no regret for shooting Rabin in an effort to stop the handover of Israeli land in any peace deals with Palestine. Trimbobler, a divorced mother of four, emigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union and has visited Amir in prison every two weeks for several years.
In their unanimous ruling Justice Ayala Procaccia wrote, 'Amir was and is one of the most widely condemned criminals in the Israeli national consciousness, if not the most widely condemned...Nonetheless, he, like all prisoners, has basic human rights that were not appropriated from him when he went to prison'. The ruling found that restrictions placed on Amir were related to his loss of freedom after being sentenced to life, other restrictions on his human rights may also be inherent in this loss of freedom. Any further restrictions that may be applicable were to be based on the interests of state security or other considerations of vital public interest. 'Beyond these, however, Amir is entitled, as is every prisoner, [to all the other] basic rights.' wrote Justice Procaccia.
As the Israeli Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom, which includes the right to a family, was not restricted by Amir's sentence then the court found that he has as much right as any other Israeli to start a family. A right provided by the basic law can only be withheld on the basis of a law or specific authorization, if the act is in accordance with the values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, only for a worthy cause and only if the action taken is balanced. It was judged that to deny Amir a family would not meet these conditions.
The decision was greeted with dismay by Yossi Lahmani, the director-general of the Rabin center. He commented, 'The court should have understood, as the last bulwark of democracy, that this was not a technical-medical decision about inseminating a lady who, by all accounts, is eccentric and decided to become pregnant from the detestable killer, but a fundamental and special decision that distinguishes this 'shooter in the back of the nation' from other killers.'
The case mirrors the recent British case of Kirk Dickson, also serving a life sentence for murder, who has been denied the right to use AI to impregnate his, much older, wife. Mr Dickson, whose wife will be 51 when he is first eligible for release in 2009, took his case to the European Court of Human Rights claiming that the Home Office refusal to allow him access to fertility treatment breached his right to found a family and his right to family life provided in the European Convention on Human Rights. His appeal was rejected by a bare majority. As part of the ruling the court found that the nature of the crime committed and the welfare of any child that may be conceived under the circumstances must be taken into account.