Infertility Treatments and Halacha – Who is the Mother?
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This paper reviews the halachic obstacles to infertility treatments and specifically focuses on identifying the halachic mother of a child born as a result of treatments involving a third party. The treatments discussed are ovary, ovum, and uterine donation, surrogacy, and the use of an artificial uterus. First, the definition of halachic motherhood is established and the general permissibility of these infertility treatments according to Jewish law is discussed. The multiple options for halachic motherhood are examined and it is concluded that the realistic possibilities of motherhood for the purpose of this paper is either the physiological or genetic mother. Then support for both the physiological and genetic mother according to halacha is reviewed. After establishing general support for both possibilities of motherhood the opinions of various authorities in Jewish law about this topic is surveyed, compared, and contrasted. The use of an artificial uterus and the question of halachic motherhood in this case is then contemplated through the lens of the previously discussed halachic approaches. This paper concludes with an interview with Rabbi Elan Segelman of PUAH, an organization that aids Jewish couples struggling with infertility, about the work of the organization and its stance concerning the identity of the halachic mother.
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