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    Artificial insemination – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. In Jewish law, is artificial insemination by donor (A.I.D.) regarded as adultery on the part of the woman?

    A. The Jerusalem Beth Din headed by Rabbi Eliezer Yehudah Waldenberg ruled some years ago that a woman who accepted semen from a man other than her husband had betrayed him, even though artificial insemination by husband (A.I.H.) had been tried on three occasions.

    There is a famous case reported in the Talmud (Chagigah 14b) of a woman conceiving in a bath into which a man had discharged semen. Apart from the question of the feasibility of conception “sine concubito”, the issue is whether in the absence of physical intercourse the woman is forbidden to her husband.

    A number of authorities, e.g. Rabbi Benzion Uzziel and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, argue that adultery does not result without physical contact. Others such as Rabbi Waldenberg and Rabbi Yehudah Leib Zirrelsohn regard A.I.D. as adultery; in the case of the woman in the bath-house, the impregnation of the woman took place passively and by accident, whereas with A.I.D. there is active participation by the woman, the doctor and the donor, and is halachically prohibited. (See “Jewish Bioethics”, ed. F. Rosner and J.D. Bleich, 1985, chapter 7: “Artificial Insemination in Jewish Law” by F. Rosner).

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