The dilemma of assisted reproduction in Iran

Keywords:

Assisted reproductive technologies, barriers, ijtihad, infertility, third party gamete donation.

S. Tremayne

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, 51 Banbury Road, OX2 6PE, UK.

Abstract

Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) have spread at a surprising speed in Iran, since their introduction three decades ago. Currently over 75 clinics offer fertility treatment, in all its forms, throughout the country. The practice of ARTs in Iran, which is an Islamic state, was made possible, initially, through the endorsement of leading religious authorities. While the use of these biotechnologies is now viewed more as a medical technology, social and cultural norms and practices remain an important factor in their acceptance. The third party donation of sperm and egg remains particularly problematic, especially in the cases of male infertility and sperm donation, and the practice has had unanticipated outcomes for kinship, gender and for the children born from such technologies. In this paper I examine the process by which ARTs have been legitimized and conclude that, so far, these modern technologies have not altered, profoundly, the attitudes of infertile couples, towards procreation, but they have become instrumental in the users’ hands to perpetuate their understanding of what constitutes kinship and relatedness.

The dilemma of assisted reproduction in Iran