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Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Sunni and Shia Perspectives

Marcia C. Inhorn
Soraya Tremayne
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 346
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  • Book Info
    Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies
    Book Description:

    How and to what extent have Islamic legal scholars and Middle Eastern lawmakers, as well as Middle Eastern Muslim physicians and patients, grappled with the complex bioethical, legal, and social issues that are raised in the process of attempting to conceive life in the face of infertility? This path-breaking volume explores the influence of Islamic attitudes on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) and reveals the variations in both the Islamic jurisprudence and the cultural responses to ARTs.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-491-1
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Marcia C. Inhorn
  5. Glossary of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Terms
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Introduction: Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies
    (pp. 1-22)
    Soraya Tremayne and Marcia C. Inhorn

    Since the birth in 1978 of England’s Louise Brown, the world’s first “test-tube baby,” assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) designed to create human life have proliferated and spread around the globe. Over the past thirty-five years, the world has seen the rapid expansion of a whole host of reproductive technologies, including:

    in vitro fertilization(IVF) to overcome female infertility, especially blocked fallopian tubes;

    intracytoplasmic sperm injection(ICSI) to overcome male infertility;

    third-party donation(of eggs, sperm, embryos and uteruses, as in surrogacy ) to overcome absolute sterility;

    multifetal pregnancy reductionto selectively abort multiple-gestation IVF pregnancies;

    ooplasm transfer(OT), of cytoplasm...

  7. Part I Islamic Legal Thought and ARTs:: Marriage, Morality, and Clinical Conundrums

    • Part I Introduction
      (pp. 24-26)
      Frank Griffel

      Let me begin this introduction to Islam and assisted reproductive technologies by looking somewhat generally at the way in which Islamic law deals with legal issues surrounding marriage and procreation. The guiding principle in almost all of the individual rules of sharia around such subjects as marriage, divorce, or inheritance is to allow a clear and unambiguous identification of a person’s father. Islamic family law is first of all patrilineal family law. If, as a student of Islamic law, one ever feels unsure as to which ruling applies to a certain case of family law, it is always a good...

    • Chapter 1 Constructing Kinship in Sunni Islamic Legal Texts
      (pp. 27-52)
      Thomas Eich

      About 85 to 90 percent of the over 1 billion Muslims today are Sunnis, approximately 10 percent Shia and a small percentage followers of other denominations, with the Sunni-Shia divide going back to a religious-political schism during the first decades of Islamic history in the seventh century. Islamic law (sharia) has developed as a reflection on the correct application of rulings and principles laid down in a set of texts to a historically changing social and political reality. All Muslims agree that one of these texts is the Qur’an, which they believe to have been fixed during the seventh century...

    • Chapter 2 Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) and Assisted Reproduction: Establishing Limits to Avoid Social Disorder
      (pp. 53-69)
      Sandra Houot

      Medically assisted conception is often a primary focus of bioethical debates, despite the fact that practices remain fairly limited. The ethics of these invasive, “artificial” manipulations of the body are often questioned, especially when crossing cultural dividing lines. Beyond the normative dimensions attached to the medical practice of assisted reproduction itself, the field of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) confronts the reflexive ethics of assisted reproduction. Indeed, it can be argued that the effects of medically assisted conception on the human condition engage the most fundamental values, such as the status of the embryo and the meanings of parenthood and lineage.


    • Chapter 3 Controversies in Islamic Evaluation of Assisted Reproductive Technologies
      (pp. 70-98)
      Farouk Mahmoud

      Of the 50–80 million infertile people worldwide, more than half are Muslims (Serour 1993), and there is a high incidence of tubal and male infertility reported in the Middle East (Serour et al. 1991; Inhorn 2003). The reason for this is not entirely clear. Muslim societies are strongly family oriented and pronatal in line with the Qur’anic verses¹ and the Prophet Muhammad’s high regard for procreation.² The social status, dignity, and self-esteem of the Muslim woman is closely related to her procreative potential (Serour 1995), reflecting the marital, social, and cultural implications of infertility. Prophet Muhammad advocated seeking treatment...

  8. Part II From Sperm Donation to Stem Cells:: The Iranian ART Revolution

    • Part II Introduction
      (pp. 100-102)
      Narges Erami

      This next section includes chapters that simultaneously set challenges and elaborate on Muslim views on ARTs. Concentrating on Islamic bioethics, state law, theological verdicts and edicts, Shia Iran becomes the arena where people affected by the inability to have children must mediate between state legal latitude and theological moral longitude. Collectively the chapters offer a myriad of explanations and explicate the manifestations that permeate discussions in Iran about ARTs and the feasibility of third-party donations as overseen by theulamaand the nearly seventy clinics that have sprung up throughout Iran. Key issues that guide and motivate the questions that...

    • Chapter 4 More Than Fatwas: Ethical Decision Making in Iranian Fertility Clinics
      (pp. 103-129)
      Robert Tappan

      The study of the bioethical decision making regarding the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in Iranian fertility clinics provides a lens with which to simultaneously examine the wider conception of Islamic bioethics. While the notion that Islamic bioethics is simply Islamic law, as expressed in the Muslim jurist’s fatwa, is widespread among both Western academics and many Muslims themselves, clinical practices provide a glimpse of a more complex and involved process. Though Islamic law plays an important, even foundational, role in bioethical decision making in the clinics, Islamic bioethics cannot be reduced to and equated with the fatwas of...

    • Chapter 5 The “Down Side” of Gamete Donation: Challenging “Happy Family” Rhetoric in Iran
      (pp. 130-156)
      Soraya Tremayne

      The use of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) for infertility treatment has been made possible in the Muslim countries of the Middle East by the endorsement and strong support of the religious leaders, as observed by Inhorn (2003) who also notes that “the global spread of these technologies is nowhere more evident than in the 22 nations of the Muslim Middle East.” These technologies, however, have remained limited in their application in most Muslim countries to IVF treatment for married couples only, and no third-party donation is allowed among Sunni Muslims (Inhorn 2005; Clarke 2006a). Iran, which is a Shia theocracy,...

    • Chapter 6 Gestational Surrogacy in Iran: Uterine Kinship in Shia Thought and Practice
      (pp. 157-193)
      Shirin Garmaroudi Naef

      Gestational surrogacy, in which the surrogate is not the provider of the female gamete and only gestates another couple’s embryo, as a solution to infertility is being practiced in Iran and has become an ongoing issue in the public debate. The practice demands the involvement of another woman in the process of childbearing and delivery—a woman who is able to carry the baby of another married couple in her womb for nine months and ultimately gives birth to it. In this respect, it is of utmost importance that the majority of Shiafuqaha(legal experts infiqh) allow this...

    • Chapter 7 Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Iran: The Significance of the Islamic Context
      (pp. 194-218)
      Mansooreh Saniei

      The novel ideas for future remedies to degenerative and thus far incurable diseases that have become related to human embryonic stem cell (ESC) research have been embraced with great enthusiasm around the world. Some medical scientists have concentrated their research on human ESCs, as they believe that these cells offer the greatest prospect both for the better understanding of human development and for their potential to treat human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries. At the same time, stem cell (SC) research using human embryos raises new, previously unimaginable ethical issues posing a dramatic...

  9. Part III Islamic Biopolitics and the “Modern” Nation-state:: Comparative Case Studies of ART

    • Introduction to Part III
      (pp. 220-222)
      P. Sean Brotherton

      In order to contribute to creating a nuanced discussion of laws, states, and Islamic biopolitics, I would like to offer here some brief comments that are directed toward highlighting the significance of each chapter in this section, and their interconnections.

      To begin, I borrow from Clarke’s innovative application of Latour’s notion on the “work of purification,” that is to say, the insidious way in which the notion of Western modernity is predicated on the maintenance of neatly compartmentalized—and separate spheres—of everyday life. Working against this conceptual trope, collectively, these chapters offer ethnographic accounts of the manifest ways the...

    • Chapter 8 Third-Party Reproductive Assistance around the Mediterranean: Comparing Sunni Egypt, Catholic Italy, and Multisectarian Lebanon
      (pp. 223-260)
      Marcia C. Inhorn, Pasquale Patrizio and Gamal I. Serour

      In 2008, the world celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of in vitro fertilization (IVF) with a conference—both scientific and celebratory—in Paris, the “City of Lights.” However, the world’s first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was not a Parisian. Rather, she was born in England in 1978 to a working-class father and his wife, whose fallopian tubes were blocked, thus necessitating the IVF procedure. The Anglican Church ardently opposed the creation of “test-tube babies” at the time. Hence, the two English reproductive scientists who helped to conceive Louise Brown—Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards—were severely criticized, and baby Louise had...

    • Chapter 9 Islamic Bioethics and Religious Politics in Lebanon: On Hizbullah and ARTs
      (pp. 261-284)
      Morgan Clarke

      The supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah ‘Ali al-Khamene’i, is politically a conservative, and indeed in the eyes of many, a highly repressive figure.¹ He is, however, most unwilling to restrict the use of advanced fertility treatments. Like a number of other Shia clerics, he does not prohibit the use of donor eggs or donor embryos, nor that of surrogacy arrangements; more unusually, he also finds no reason to prohibit the use of donor sperm (see this volume passim; Clarke 2007a). Secondly, within the wider Middle East it is only in predominantly Shia Iran and in Lebanon,...

    • Chapter 10 Assisted Reproduction in Secular Turkey: Regulation, Rhetoric, and the Role of Religion
      (pp. 285-311)
      Zeynep B. Gürtin

      In vitro fertilization (IVF) technology—ortüp bebek(literally “tubebaby”) as it is ubiquitously known—has become one of the most arresting hallmarks of contemporary Turkish society. Ever present in popular media coverage, from celebrity endorsements on daytime television shows to cutting-edge news items on the front pages of daily broadsheets,tüp bebekstories regularly pique the national interest and have wide appeal for an emphatically “child-loving” population. With access strictly limited to married couples using their own gametes, assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are presented and perceived as modern medicine’s (modern týp) efficacious “cure” for the personal, familial, and social tragedy...

  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 312-318)
  11. Index
    (pp. 319-338)