Fertility treatements – The Halachic (Jewish Law) perspective
Rabbi Y Ulman
With the advancement of medical technology and research, different possibilities for fertility treatments have come about, such as IUI, GIFT, ZIFT, IVF, ECSI, egg donations surrogacy etc. Different ethical schools of thought & religions began to respond to the question of acceptability of these methods. One objection was that you are tampering with nature. Judaism negates this approach. Whenever we are given the knowledge to be able to help people this is a gift from G-d as long as the method is permitted according to Halacha one is permitted to apply it. In the same way as surgery is tampering with G-d.
The main premise on which IVF and similar methods were permitted according to Halacha is to insure the sanctity of the Jewish family. Therefore the sperm and the egg should come from husband and wife and a Halachically acceptable independent supervision must insure that nothing was replaced and no mistake was made.
The supervision insures that at every stage of the process the sperm, eggs, embryos, culture, medium etc are either within the sight of the supervisor or sealed. A female trained Shomeret (supervisor) oversees the pickup of the eggs and the embryo transfer.
All issues concerning donors have Halachic concerns including the Jewish status of the child and Rabbi Ulman advises and counsels couples on those issues including conversion of the child when necessary. Other issues among many with which Halacha is concerned are – what to do with frozen embryos in case of death of either of the parents, divorce etc, the method of producing a sperm sample and many other issues.
In Australia, Rabbi Ulman, of the Sydney Beth Din is the Rabbinic authority in all matters related to fertility. All Halachic (sanctioned by Jewish law ) fertility treatments are under his guidance. We are fortunate in Sydney that the 3 major fertility clinics in the eastern suburbs have specific processes in place to accommodate the Rabbi and supervisors in that is required by Halacha. Rabbi Ulman is also the Rabbinic advisor for A.J.F.N.