Tag Archives: Islamic Medical Ethics

Egg and Sperm Donation in Other Cultures

The other day I was watching the The Learning Channel’s new program, All-American Muslim. I was drawn in by the docu-series because it follows Muslim-American families in my home state of Michigan, in the community of Dearborn.

I like the program so far because it’s giving a voice to a group of Americans who, as a minority group, have been the target of misguided anger, hate crimes, prejudice, and misunderstanding since the 9/11 attacks. Our country needs more programs like this that attempt to dispel negative stereotypes and the judgement of entire groups of people based on the actions of a few.

I’m mentioning it here on my blog because last week’s episode chronicled the events of one muslim woman’s quest for a family. Samira Amen and her husband have been trying to start a family for some time with no success. When she turned to her local religious leaders to ask if she and her husband could use a sperm donor, she was told that a child born from donor sperm would be “that man’s child” and so it was not permitted. They did not mention the use of an egg donor in the episode, but did note that adoption was not common among the Muslim-American culture.

Samira spent a great deal of thought and energy consulting family, friends, and elders within her community and decided that she would continue to dedicate herself to her faith and perhaps God would bless her with a child.

I realized from watching the program that I knew very little about sperm and egg donation in other cultures. A quick search of the Internet yielded this clarification of Islamic Medical Ethics by the Islamic Society of North America.

“We believe infertility is a disease and desire for a cure by an infertile couple is natural. However, in Islam, for an action to be permissible all means of achieving that action are also to be pure. IMANA holds the position that all forms of assisted reproductive technology (ART) are permissible between husband and wife during the span of marriage using the husband’s sperm and the wife’s ovaries and uterus. No third party involvement is allowed. We believe in the sanctity of marriage (Quran: 16:72) and that the death of one of the spouse terminates the marriage contract on earth, thus frozen sperm from husband can not be used. Sperm, ova and embryo donation are not permitted. We also believe that surrogacy involving a third person is not permissible, as we believe that it exceeds the boundaries of the marriage contract and lineage (Quran 58:2, 25:54). An infertile couple , if they can not find a permissible cure, can care for another child or someone else’s child as their own without giving legal adoption such as changing the name, inheritance etc. Use of infertility drugs is permissible.”

Although I would feel extreme sadness if I were an Islamic woman who could not take full advantage of the technology available today, I also deeply respect a person’s freedom and choice to follow the dictates of their religion and/or cultural norms.

Do you know other cultures or countries that frown upon the use of sperm or egg donors?