By Kathleen Gilbert

JERUSALEM, August 15, 2008 ( – A rabbi at a religious conference said Wednesday night that a woman “who decides to have a baby out of wedlock by means of a sperm donation is unbelievably cruel,” reports the Israeli news service

Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, a prominent figure in the Religious Zionism movement, expressed anger at what he considered an act of pure selfishness. “Whoever plans on having a baby like this by choice, just in order to fulfill her needs as a mother, has exceeded all evil and cruelty.”

Rabinowitz emphasized the impact this kind of willed single motherhood has on a child’s social standing, calling it “unimaginable” intentionally to “bring an orphaned child into the world.” In criticism of an unequivocal nature the report called unprecedented, the rabbi concluded, “A woman [who does this] is not fit to be a mother for any human creature.”

The rabbi was speaking at a summer conference of the Tzohar Rabbinical Association, an organization dedicated to advancing solidarity among Jews and promoting the rabbi’s role in the Israeli community. Speakers at the conference were asked to discuss “family, generation gaps and the modern world.”

Rabinowitz’ fellow Rabbi Yaakov Ariel blamed sperm donation for encouraging women to marry too late. He also condemned its disruption of the traditional family structure: “There is no such thing as a single-parent family, just like there is no square that is a circle. A family consists of a father, mother, and children.”

The right of a child to be born into a family with a father and a mother is also one of the crucial arguments in the Catholic community’s battle against sperm donation and other artificial means of conception. When earlier this year Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the discernment of bioethical issues, he stated, “The two fundamental criteria for moral discernment in this field are: unconditional respect for the human being as a person, from conception to natural death; and respect for the origin of the transmission of human life through the acts of the spouses.”

By arguing for the integrity of human procreation, critics of artificial insemination go beyond social considerations and address the physical, emotional and spiritual suffering of those involved as well as the intrinsic nature of human sexuality (see article “Fatherless Families: Spread of IVF Leave Children in the Dark”

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