12 August 2008

Sperm donation leads to evil, cruelty and sperm donation

Infertility Network reported on an article recently on Ynet regarding a statement by Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, a posek in the Religious Zionism movement. R' Rabinowitz stated that, "A woman who decides to have a baby out of wedlock by means of a sperm donation is unbelievably cruel."

I disagree, but I see where he's coming from. Judaism espouses a "traditional" family, ie, a mother, a father and children. It's all over the Torah: "a man shall cleave to his wife," G-d said to Adam and Eve, "be fruitful and multiply." Etc., etc. I would assume (oye, never ever assume) that the Rabbi is implying that this is cruel to the child to deprive him or her of a father and cruel to the potential fathers out there.

R' Rabinowitz added "Whoever plans on having a baby like this by choice, just in order to fulfill her needs as a mother, has exceed all evil and cruelty."

I can argue that one all day. Why does anyone have a child? To fulfill some need, of course. Wether that need is to satisfy a mitzvah, a personal desire, the desire of your husband, all of the above, another option altogether. Why do I want children? Not for some altruistic reason, that's for sure (okay, maybe a little bit altruistic reasons). At what point does fulfilling a need become selfish or evil and cruel? If you satisfy your need for crack, that's all sorts of selfish, but evil and cruel?

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, president of Tzohar claims that sperm donation encourages birth without marriage, and "grants legitimacy to late spinsterhood." As if most women are single in their later years by choice! Yes, I know many are. But in my (albeit limited) experience, women who choose to remain single also do not want children. My women friends who have had children as single mothers, chose to do so because they were afraid they'd never meet the right man, and never be able to have children if they waited any longer. That ol' biological clock becomes a very real thing.

But the quote that really got me, also from R' Ariel, "There is no such thing as a single-parent family... A family consists of a father, mother, and children."

Tell that to every single mother whose husband left her. Every single mother struggling to raise her children after her husband was killed in an accident, in a war, in a senseless act of violence. Tell that to the single mother fighting to keep it together after her husband has died after a long illness. No single-parent families, my ass. And yes, it works the other way, too: There are countless single fathers who raise beautiful children day after day. However, my impression is it's easier for a single father to find another woman. I know far more single mothers trying to find a date, never mind a husband, than I do single fathers.

If Rabbis could give birth, I think they'd come up with a whole different perspective. Yes, statistically, children do better in two-parent homes that consist of a woman and a man. But that doesn't mean that a child from a single mother will not perform well. It doesn't mean children from a same-sex partnership will suffer. Circumstances are everything. And if a religious woman is not married by her late thirties, and is afraid she won't be able to have children, and understands how being single and having children will affect her life, and understands why she wants this child, then she is not cruel, not evil, not promoting spinsterhood. She is creating a beautiful human being who will be loved and wanted and cherished.

And isn't that fulfilling a hell of a need.

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At 13/8/08 5:59 a.m., Blogger shanna said...

I'm going to refrain from using my strong words now.


(not you)

At 13/8/08 12:25 p.m., Blogger projgen said...

That's asswankS, dear ;)

And whoa, where was I when I wrote this subject line? It's supposed to say, "Single mothers lead to evilness, cruelty and sperm donation."

Sheesh. No more Nyquil for me.

At 14/8/08 10:40 p.m., Blogger Lut C. said...

This will be no consolation whatsoever to you, but the Vatican is against ART in any shape or form.
Can you imagine?

I can only imagine such opinions from religous leaders makes you feel conflicted.

I too believe the Vatican would issue quite some different guidelines if there were women, make that mothers, in the highest ranks.

At 15/8/08 10:54 a.m., Blogger projgen said...

The good (?) thing is, these are just opinions from Rabbis, they are not "halacha," or Jewish law. The bad thing is, many people follow the opinions of these rabbis.

And yeah, it's easy enough for people who are supposed to remain celibate and child-free to rule against any kind of reproductive assistance. Does anyone know if the vatican allows a women with a blocked fallopian tube to have surgery to clear the obstruction, in order to facilitate pregnancy?

At 16/8/08 1:02 p.m., Blogger Bea said...

I believe the vatican says yes, enthusiastically.

As to the rest - well spoken. I'm not Jewish, so perhaps it doesn't count, but for what it's worth, I'm on your side.


At 17/8/08 6:19 a.m., Blogger miriamp said...

This is about as crazy (umm, misguided?) as the article about how Jewish women not changing their last names when they get married is the root cause of divorce.

Blame the society (that makes pregnancy available without a physically present male partner) for spinsterhood, maybe. Blame the women taking advantage of the possibility? Madness.

However, I can't disagree that it is a bit cruel (although not evil) to a baby to set out intending to raise him in a single parent home, on purpose. Of course there are plenty of children forced by circumstance (and even by "Acts of God") to live in such homes, and some will thrive and some will wither, but parenting an infant and then a child is hard enough without needing to be sole breadwinner as well. I hope any woman who chooses this path does it with both eyes open, and a supportive network (friends, family) in place.

At 17/8/08 12:55 p.m., Blogger projgen said...

I think (assuming here) that most single women who would actively pursue sperm donation in order to have children have thought it out very carefully.

I know someone who was blessed enough to have a mother who was so supportive of her desire to have a child, despite being single, that her mother moved across the country to be full-time childcare. The three of them love the arrangement, and the child is showered with so much love and attention. This is an extremely unusual case, I'm sure, and this woman is hugely blessed to have such a giving mother, but it is an example where it can work if done right.


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