Choosing a Jewish Egg Donor by Michael Feinman, MD

14 Jun

When choosing an egg donor, it is understandable that women will want to select a donor who is similar to themselves in appearance and ethnic background.  As with many aspects of Jewish Law, what may seem obvious and desirable may not conform to rabbinical interpretations of the Law.  Ironically, since it is sometimes difficult to find suitable Jewish donors, these legal twists can actually help some people “let go” of their desire to work only with Jewish donors.

While Reform Judaism recognizes that parentage can come from either parent, traditionally most, but not all, rabbis have agreed that if a Jewish woman gives birth to the baby, that child is fully Jewish.  The Laws determining a child’s family and religion of origin were established thousands of years ago — long before genetic testing — and so Jewishness is passed from the mother who gives birth rather than from the genetic parents.

The following principles can guide most Jewish couples considering egg donation:

A Jewish donor is not legally required for a Jewish couple.  Based on the concerns about accidental incest and the legal status of eggs, a non-Jewish donor may actually be preferable.  Accepting this idea can alleviate much of the angst over trying to find a Jewish donor (which, again, can be difficult).

If a Jewish donor is chosen, she should be single or married to a non-Jewish man.  If she is divorced, she needs a Jewish divorce, including a “Get.”

The process of choosing an egg donor is different for every family.  There are an endless number of things to consider in making such an important decision.  If observing Jewish Law is a priority for theIntended Parent(s), then finding a Jewish donor is not as necessary as one might think.  Ideally, this will be helpful to some (as the pool of potential donors will be enlarged significantly).

– Michael Feinman, MD

Medical Director, HRC Fertility

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