Jack, I am a 37yr old ...

Kimberly asked:

Jack, I am a 37yr old single woman who is considering artificial insemination via a sperm donor. I am wondering what the church's view would be on this subject?Thanks.

Jack Answered:

Hi, Kimberly:

Thanks for the question. I think it is one of the most difficult I have received on this column. I appreciate your desire to give and receive love from a child, especially one that you bear yourself.

Why difficult? Because there is really no biblical precedent. Different churches have made pronouncements on this issue. I quote three:

Roman Catholics: While the Roman Catholic church recognizes the pain of a married couple who are unable to have a child, she says that "a child is a gift, not a right". For this reason, the church rejects all forms of contraception and new reproductive technologies, i.e. In Vitro Fertilization, Artificial Insemination by husband, and Artificial Insemination by a Donor. The moral argument underlying the Vatican condemnation of other practices is not so obvious. Why, for example, does the Church object to the artificial insemination of a childless woman with her husband's sperm? Such practices are opposed on the grounds that the sexual act has two purposes: the unitive (emotional or spiritual) and the procreative (biological). Since these functions "by nature" belong together, it is always wrong to separate them. Artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and surrogate motherhood are immoral because they involve sexual acts that are procreative, but not unitive. And, rightful conception must respect the inseparability of the two meanings of the sexual act.

In 1984, the Anglican Church declared, like the Catholics, that surrogacy is never acceptable. However, the Anglican Church believes that using donations of sperm and eggs are an acceptable way to help a couple fulfill their desire to have a child. The Anglicans did want to add that the children conceived in this manner should have access to information concerning the donor.

The Methodists believe it is right to research the causes of infertility and to look for cures. Like the Anglicans, they believe that creating spare embryos is not a problem. They, however, remain against the concept of using donor sperm or eggs.

You will note, Kimberly, that all three answers presuppose the fertilization of a woman who is married and has a husband. Your question is more complicated since you are single.

My own personal view at this point would be that pregnancy and birth is an experience that belongs within the marriage bond, whether by “natural” or “artificial” means. Technically, for your to bear a child would be that it would be “illegitimate,” that is a child born out of wedlock. Another detail is that you could never be able to tell your child anything about his/her father, since you wouldn’t know yourself.

The pastors that I consulted made the suggestion that perhaps you would do better by adopting an orphan or an abandoned child that desperately needs the love you can give to him/her.

This is the best answer I can give to you at this time. May the Lord guide you in this important decision.

Jack

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