Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Donating excess embryos

8 February, 2005

Question:

Are you familiar with embryonic adoption? I was wondering what the Halacha perspective is on this? (I know that within the Catholic communities they are advocating that catholic families who have gone through in vitro fertilization and have "extra embryos" that they are not planning on using are encouraged to explore having their exmbryos adopted by other Catholic Families. Therefore, in light of the Jewish view on family and birth control I would imagine this might be a Halachic concern as well) Are there any rabbis who have commented on this issue?


Answer:

Excess embryos outside the womb have no halachic status.  Thus they can be discarded and, technically, adoption does not apply to them.

Should Jews donate embryos, one halachic concern would be with keeping track of all of a couple's progeny to avoid any future chances of incest.  However, in certain cases, it might be permitted for a Jewish couple to donate an embryo, under rabbinic guidance.

The best address for this question is Machon Puah: www.puahonline.org.


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