Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 422–430 | Cite as

Islam, Assisted Reproduction, and the Bioethical Aftermath

  • Marcia C. InhornEmail author
  • Soraya Tremayne
Original Paper


Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), including in vitro fertilization to overcome infertility, are now widely available across the Middle East. Islamic fatwas emerging from the Sunni Islamic countries have permitted many ARTs, while prohibiting others. However, recent religious rulings emanating from Shia Muslim-dominant Iran have created unique avenues for infertile Muslim couples to obtain donor gametes through third-party reproductive assistance. The opening of Iran to gamete donation has had major impacts in Shia-dominant Lebanon and has led to so-called reproductive tourism of Sunni Muslim couples who are searching for donor gametes across national and international borders. This paper explores the “bioethical aftermath” of donor technologies in the Muslim Middle East. Other unexpected outcomes include new forms of sex selection and fetal “reduction.” In general, assisted reproduction in the Muslim world has been a key site for understanding how emerging biomedical technologies are generating new Islamic bioethical discourses and local moral responses, as ARTs are used in novel and unexpected ways.


Islam Sunni Shia Islamic bioethics Assisted reproduction Assisted reproductive technologies Third-party reproductive assistance Egg donation Sperm donation Sex selection Fetal reduction Iran Lebanon 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anthropology and International AffairsYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Social and Cultural AnthropologyOxford UniversityOxfordUK

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