Explosive: the Ministry of Health will authorize IVF in Agunot | The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com | David Israel | 17 Iyyar 5782 – 18 May 2022

Photo credit: Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL

Meretz leader MK Nitzan Horowitz during the Knesset plenum on August 24, 2020.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) will instruct professionals in his cabinet to change in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures so women whose husbands refuse to release them from marriage (agunot) can receive donated sperm without their husband’s consent. approval. According to a Tuesday report in Walla (הורוביץ הנחה לאפשר לנשים עגונות ומסורבות גט לקבל תרומת זרע), women who are denied a religious divorce (get) will be able to present proof of their social security aguna status to the health authorities and receive authorization to conceive from a sperm donor like any other woman.

The halakhic world, which is still debating the very idea of ​​IVF, will not take this decision kindly. I haven’t found any halakhic reference to an aguna seeking to get pregnant from a donor without her husband’s consent, but those will likely be forthcoming, now that the orthodox agunot will start asking their rabbis about it .

Clearly, Minister Horowitz is not bothered by the explosive outcome of his decision in terms of Jewish law. His predecessor, Yuli Edelstein, who wears a yarmulke, tried to push IVF for the agunot but met rabbinical resistance, supposedly on the basis of “marit ayin” – actions that appear as a violation of Jewish law even though they are permitted, but are denied due to fear that viewers will conclude that the implied violation is acceptable. The classic example is drinking almond milk with your steak. A bystander might conclude that it is okay to drink cow’s milk with meat. The Shulchan Aruch solution is to place some almonds next to your plate. So if your neighbor who is estranged from her husband starts showing up, you might conclude that she had illicit relations despite not getting a get from her husband – and we want to avoid that.

Lawyer Orit Lahav, CEO of the Mavoy Satum Group (impasse), welcomed Minister Horowitz’s decision and pointed out that husbands who refuse to release their wives use the ticking of the biological clock as another way to push for unfair concessions. Lahav said she wants a time when women don’t have to go the IVF route to preserve their right to parenthood.

The critical question regarding IVF in a married woman is whether it is considered an act of illicit conception or not. Jewish law prohibits a married woman from having relations with another man, and the offspring of such relations is a “mamzer”, which is commonly translated as “illegitimate” but does not include the offspring of an unmarried woman. . Only a married woman can give birth to a mamzer, and the child, in turn, cannot marry a Jewish spouse, except another mamzer or a convert.

The rabbis who endorse IVF (however long a couple must wait before the husband is declared sterile) rely on a note in Gemara Hagiga 15a that suggests a woman can become pregnant in the bath because of a stranger’s floating semen. The offspring of such conception is not considered a mamzer, as it is not the result of an illicit sexual act.

But a mamzer is also the product of other illicit relationships, such as between close relatives. The rabbis fear that the offspring of an anonymous IVF donor may one day marry another offspring from the same donor, meaning they would literally marry their brother and thus their child would be a mamzer.

This is why some rabbis have recommended only using sperm from a kind donor, where there is no danger of mamzer status.

It is conceivable (no pun intended) that an aguna who becomes pregnant from a kind donor, even without her husband’s consent, will not give birth to a mamzer – but, without a doubt, it is high time that a widely respected halakhic authority decides. question, not only based on marit ayin, but after discussion of all the issues involved: the suffering of the aguna, the sanctity of the still existing marriage, and the halakhic understanding of IVF as illicit or permissible.

Until such a clear decision is published by a widely accepted posek, I would advise individuals not to follow the Times of Israel’s statement on Tuesday, suggesting that “Jewish law opposes a woman “chained” conceives a child with a man who is not her husband, because such a baby would be considered a mamzer … However, such a problem does not exist in the case of a “chained” woman becoming pregnant through artificial insemination, a concept that effectively exists outside the rules governing mamzer status.”

I would like a second opinion…

Maria J. Book