Test tube babies: Islamic view

Q642 :What does Islam say about test-tube babies, artificial insemination, sperm banks and the so-called "children-on-demand" techniques?

A642 : Much is being said about the techniques now available as a result of what is termed the "revolution" in genetic engineering. There is the sperm bank which is used to fertilize eggs of women who have remained childless after a number of years of marriage. There is also the method known as "surrogate" motherhood where one woman is employed to bear the child for a married couple who cannot have a child of their own. The surrogate mother is paid a fee for her troubles. There are other techniques and methods which are being tried on animals to determine whether they can safely be applied to human beings. There is a ruling which has been agreed by many scholars and which applies to all these techniques and methods. That ruling states that whatever is used strictly between a married couple to help them have a child of their own is permissible, provided that no third party is involved in any way. If, for example, the egg of a woman is taken out of her body and fertilized in the laboratory out of her own husband's sperm, which means that the conception takes place outside her body, and then the fertilized egg is replanted in her body, and she carries the fetus for the rest of the pregnancy term before giving birth to it, this is acceptable. When any process involves a third party, either in the shape of a surrogate mother or fertilizing the egg of one woman with the sperm of someone other than her husband, then all this is forbidden. In the latter case, the sperm may come from a bank and the man who gave it is not known to the woman. The prohibition is based on the principle that Islam is keen to maintain proper family relationships. The children must be aware of who their parents are. When a mess like the one happening in the West is allowed to take place, all sorts of problems arise. What is more, the inevitable result will be total confusion of parenthood and of the child-parent relationship. This is something which Islam does not allow.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )