The Official Website of the Office of His Eminence Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani

Question & Answer » Artificial Insemination

1 Question: An inseminated egg of a woman was implanted in another woman’s womb. The foetus was carried and nurtured by the second woman until she gave birth to the baby. Does the child belong to the first woman or the second?
Answer: If the sperm and egg belong to the husband and wife and the inseminated egg is then implanted in another woman's womb, there is no problem. It is permissible per se. However, since implanting involves touching and seeing the private part, insemination would be allowed only when the parties to the marriage may face difficulty in their life which is not normally bearable. If this is the case, looking and touching would be allowed to the necessary extent.
However, when it comes to who the child belongs to, the owner of the egg or the owner of the womb, that is a problematic issue. In any case, precaution has to be observed in inheritance. As for mahramiyah, the owner of sperm is the legal father and the owner of the egg is mahram (related) to the child because she is her father's wife and the owner of the womb is mahram to him because she is like his mother.
2 Question: A woman was inseminated with the sperm of a stranger; she conceived and gave birth to a baby. What is the fatwa about the child?
Answer: If this happened accidentally, in that she was inadvertently inseminated by another man’s sperm, there is no ishkal that such a child be treated as t he offspring of the man whose sperm was used in the process. In a way it is akin to sexual intercourse by error (bishubha).
If, however, this was deliberately done and with intent, it is likely that the child be treated as the offspring of the owner of sperm. Thus, all rules regarding pedigree and inheritance apply. This is being so, for he who is exempt from inheritance is the offspring of an adulterous relationship. The child, the subject of this article, is not the same, albeit the act that led to conceiving his seed was haraam.
3 Question: What is Grand Ayatollah Sistani's fatwa about artificial insemination?
Answer: It is not permissible to inseminate a woman with the sperm of a man, other than her husband, irrespective of whether or not she was married. It makes no difference whether husband and wife consented to the act or not. Likewise, if insemination is done by the husband or another man.
4 Question: Sometimes the sperm of a man is preserved in a sperm bank. Is it permissible for a divorced Muslim woman to use the sperm of a strange man [to artificially inseminate herself] with or without his permission and without recitation of marriage formula? What is the ruling if the sperm is that of her ex-husband, and she intends to use it during the waiting period or after it?
Answer: It is not permissible for a woman to inseminate herself with the sperm of a strange man; and it is permissible to do so with the sperm of her husband, even during the waiting period but not after it.
5 Question: Certain circumstances demand the use of insemination between husband and wife in order to increase the chances of pregnancy; this process of insemination requires exposing the private parts before the doctor. Is this allowed?
Answer: Exposing the private parts for the purpose mentioned above is not allowed. However, if there is a need that compels one to have children, and having children requires exposing the private parts, it is allowed. An example of “need” is when enduring childlessness becomes an unbearable difficulty for the couple.
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