Sunday, June 11, 2006

Halacha on the Move! Chief Rabbi Allows Married Woman to be Embryo Surrogate.

In a landmark decision (I wonder what the RCA would have to say about this! Oh, never mind, JoeSettler already mediated a settlement between the RCA and the Chief Rabbinate on the issue of conversions) HaRav Amar, the Rishon L'Tzion Chief Rabbi of Israel, has ruled that a married woman can be a surrogate mother for the embryo of another man and woman.

This news story is so new, that it hasn't yet come out on any English website, but the links to the Hebrew postings are here and here.

Till now, Halachik authorities have ruled that a child born to a married surrogate mother (in which there is an embryo implanted from a different woman and fertilized by someone not the husband of the surrogate mother) is that of a mamzer -- a bastard.

In this case, a woman was married for 13 years, underwent 5 miscarriages and did not have the needed 50,000 dollars to pay for a surrogate mother -- till she found one who agreed to do it for free. Rav Amar claimed that since an embryo is being implanted in the surrogate mother's womb and not not sperm, there is no issue of mamzeirut.

Rabbis around Israel are demanding explanations from Rav Amar concerning his conclusion.

Never a dull moment...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


YMedad said...

er, how can an embryo develop into a human being without sperm? since the embryo is nourished in the womb, there may be contact between the carrier and the male's sperm in some chemical way. this ought to be intersting.

JoeSettler said...

I'm not touching this one.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

ymedad: A fertilized embryo is being implanted, instead of fertilization occuring after the egg is implanted.

Therefore, no "sperm" cells are entering the womb, only a full, living fertilized embryo.

Olah Chadasha said...

It makes perfect sense to me. This decision seems oddly familiar in its integrity and chaos that was reaked upon the Jewish world after Rev Moshe Feinstein said that invetro fertilization and using sperm donors is halachically viable. It cause quite a stir initially and then was accepted as legitimiate by most of the sane Jewish world. I think this probably carries the same weight. The surrogate isn't committing adultery or anything by carrying a fertilized embryo from another chick. She's just lending her uterus and placenta. I think this Rav is smart and making a lot of sense. Kol Ha'Kavod to him!

YMedad said...

if you placed a meat dish wrapped in pastry (like a blintze) in a milk pot, would you consider it kosher?

Batya said...

It's wonderful and it makes sense.

Shira Salamone said...

Ymedad, I'm with Olah Chadasha on this one: If the married woman never lays so much as a pinkie on the guy, and if he never lays so much as a pinkie on her, how can this be considered adultery? Kashrut is the wrong analogy, in my opinion--we're not discussing the contents of the pot, merely how the contents got there. It's the "delivery system" that's at issue in adultery. If the sperm didn't get there via intercourse, there's no adultery involved, in my opinion.

rockofgalilee said...


if it was double wrapped in pastry, there might not be such a problem.

Olah Chadasha said...

Shira, you're right, and the delivery system can't come into question, either. When the egg is planted in the woman's uterus, the sperm is already in there. It aint getting out, you know. I know nothing about this Rav, but it's so great to see a Rav think like Rev Moshe Feinstein. Meaning, applying halacha appropriately, albeit controversially, to modern life and issues. I like this guy.

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