Jewish Bioethics 101

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A host of options now exist for couples and individuals who have difficulty conceiving through conventional means. “Artificial” insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and surrogate motherhood all raise ethical and legal questions. Could insemination with donor sperm be considered adultery? Is the child born from such procedures illegitimate? What is the status of unused embryos after IVF is completed? Who is the mother--and what is the Jewish status--of a child born to a surrogate mother? There are few unanimous answers to such questions. However, procreation is a mitzvah, a fundamental Jewish obligation, and so these procedures are often permitted, particularly when the egg and sperm are those of husband and wife.

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