Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Vice President for University and Community Life and the Dean of the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future discussed the Jewish view on in vitro fertilization at a lecture he delivered to fellow rabbis. One of the issues that arose during the lecture was the question of whether parents can decide which fertilized egg to have implanted in the woman, a fertilized egg that will develop to become a boy or one that will become a girl. During in vitro fertilization doctors examine the fertilized egg for genetic defects, and while they do that they can also discover the gender of the future child. Is it therefore proper to use that information to choose the gender of the ensuing baby?
Another issue which Rabbi Kenny Brander discussed in more depth is how to define parenthood; who are the father and the mother under the different scenarios of in vitro fertilization? For example:
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• If the woman who wants the child does not have viable eggs and eggs are donated by another woman, who then is the mother? Is it the genetic mother, or the host mother? Or perhaps both?
• If the sperm are donated because the man that wants the baby does not have viable sperm, then who is the father: the genetic supplier of the sperm, or the man who is married to the woman that will carry the baby who will be given the task of the raising the child? Or once again, perhaps both?
Rabbi Brander explains clearly that in vitro fertilization and other technologies that aid and improve mankind’s life and health are looked on quite favorably by Judaism. Just because difficulties might arise as a result of these technologies does not mean in any way that Judaism does not fully embrace them as a means to become partners with G-d in the Jewish mission to “repair the world.”