Some rabbis, particularly those on the traditionalist end of the Jewish religious spectrum, would raise very strong objections to this request on Jewish legal (halakhic) grounds. Many of those halakhic authorities who approve of in vitro fertilization (or, for that matter, of artificial insemination) restrict their approval to cases where the semen donor is the woman’s husband. These rabbis would presumably be reluctant to grant approval to the creation of a single-mother family. True, one could argue that the woman in this case is trying to fulfill the commandment of procreation (“be fruitful and multiply”- Genesis 1:28). The traditional understanding of that verse, however, holds that the obligation applies specifically to males and not to females. Thus, while the semen donor might be fulfilling an obligation in this case - that is, if he’s Jewish - it could be argued that the woman herself fulfills no mitzvah by having a child in this manner.
It’s vital to recognize, though, that not all rabbis agree with this reasoning. Rabbis who represent the more “liberal” wings of the Jewish religious spectrum are more likely to interpret the mitzvah of procreation differently, namely that it applies to women as well as to men. In addition, we tend to recognize today that one’s desire to build a family need not depend upon one’s ability to find a suitable spouse. To put this differently, we are much more accepting of diverse sorts of families, so that many of us no longer take a negative view of the phenomenon of single-mother households. Our concern would probably be more focused upon the woman’s readiness - psychologically, emotionally, and in all other personal and social respects - to take on the challenge of raising a child on her own. If she is, then we are much less likely than ever before to teach her that Jewish law somehow forbids her to build a Jewish family and to bring Jewish children into the world.
Whenever a question is posed, “Does Jewish law permit?” we enter the realm of it depends what we mean by Jewish law and who we ask.
As Rabbi Marc Angel has said, “There is not one pesak halakhah (Jewish legal decision), rather a range of piskei halakhah (plural).”
I am in the fortunate position of not being a posek halakhah (Jewish legal decisor).So, I will not give a final answer to this question.As they say, it depends who you ask.
The idea of an unmarried woman giving birth through whatever means is in traditional terms, unprecedented and obviously unacceptable.
But from the standpoint of modernity and the emphasis upon the individual and personal fulfillment, it is understood why such a question would be asked and why an individual might desire to give birth and nurture a child.
Having the technology to bring about a result of a human birth which is considered a “berakhah”— a blessing seems to make sense and since others are doing it, “so why shouldn’t I?”
But, as with anything else, the personal fulfillment aspiration does not exist in a vacuum and the question relates to more than what the self wants, rather “Does Jewish law permit in vitro fertilization?”
For a woman desiring an answer to this question, she must turn to an actual rabbi who is competent in the field of Jewish medical ethics and the latest decision-making in halakhah.She can then ask a she-ailah—a question requiring a teshuvah—response.
We must remember an overarching principle that was taught to me by the great Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler, widely respected especially in this field.He said something to the effect that Judaism is on the side of natalism.In other words, the Torah favors doing whatever is necessary and available in order to bring children into this world.
Rabbi Tendler , the scholar that he is and the scientist that he is, would not, I believe, go beyond the limits of the traditional definition of Jewish marriage—a man and a woman.
As I have stated at the outset, I will not make a decision on my own about in vitro fertilization for an unmarried woman, since I am not in a rabbinic position to make such determinations.
This is a very complicated question, and alas, there is not enough information from the question itself in order to answer it adequately. I would want to know the answer to a few questions: what is motivating her to have this procedure? Why is in vitro more appealing to her than adoption? Why is in vitro is more appealing to her than artificial insemination? These are just a few of the relevant questions.
The Conservative Movement does not have a responsum written on this question regarding a single mother. I am not a qualified posek (decisor of Jewish law) so I can’t really answer this question with any authority. There is precedent for allowing IVF when it mitigates a couple’s anguish of not being able to have children (see Rabbi Nebenzahl’s article in Assia, volume 5, 5746 / 1986), but this has not been applied to a single mother.
As with all halachic questions (questions regarding Jewish law), it goes without saying that one should consult his /her rabbi for detailed and nuanced guidance.
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