A few days ago, I came across an article on BBC News about a law that Turkey passed recently, which forbids women to go abroad and get pregnant through artificial insemination. The article can be accessed through this link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8568733.stm.
Anyway, as I was reading the article, I couldn’t help thinking just how bizarre and utterly ridiculous the ban was. I just don’t understand what is the big deal about women who, due to personal or inevitable reasons, prefer to be artificially inseminated, rather than have kids the conventional way? I mean it is the woman’s choice we’re talking about here. She should be able to do whatEVER she wants because it’s her body for crying out loud! Oh, but of course, it is extremely important that we know exactly who the father is, as opposed to women who desperately desire to have kids!
The fact that alarms me the most is that this rule has been passed in a democratic and secular country like Turkey. When Ataturk founded the Republic of Turkey, his dogmas and ideals ensured that the country progressed significantly in terms of individual advancement and national liberation; thus, allowing women the freedom to realize their true worth and individuality. However, the imposition of such bans not only restricts a woman’s desire to indulge in something that she feels is right for her, but it also completely and utterly undermines the values and principles upon which the country is and should be based on!
Many people I have debated with on this topic have told me that they agree with the ban as they believe that reproduction is not a choice but rather a matter of responsibility. And they further go on to say that artificial insemination is wrong or “haram” in Islam because children need a father, or even a family, to rely on; and perhaps ADOPTING would be a much better choice than simply using a sperm donor.
Although I agree that reproduction is indeed about having responsibility, I strongly disagree about it not being a choice. Why can’t it also be about choice? Don’t a lot of women choose to get pregnant in order to have a child? Yes, there are some who, sometimes, don’t have a choice simply because they have either been raped or gotten pregnant “by accident.” But what about those women who are not married, or are married but their husbands are sterile, and they desperately want to have children? Why do we restrict such women from finding alternative means to have a child?
As for the issue of it being “haram,” what is so wrong or taboo about this alternative method to have children? It’s SO easy to label something as taboo or unacceptable as soon as people realize how such a practice goes against common norms and beliefs that their creeds educe. The gross irony is that Muslim men, so easily, take on a second wife, in order to have children, the second they realize their current wife is unable to conceive. And then I wonder: WHY is this accepted in the Muslim world and not a woman taking on a sperm donor to have children? What difference does it make? Is it because so much emphasis is placed on knowing who the child’s father is, that it then becomes OKAY if men take on second, third, and fourth wives in order to have kids; but when a woman wants to have kids using sperm donors, it is wrong and taboo? How is that even fair?
Another person I was debating with mentioned that Qur’an allows men to take on a second wife (only after he has asked the permission of his first wife; otherwise he should not do it). And he further goes on to say that when the Qur’an allows men to take on a second wife to have kids, it’s usually NOT an obligation, but rather by choice. However, exactly how many men, especially from my neck of the woods (Pukhtuns) and in and around the Muslim world follow this rule? Most men simply take advantage of it, while leaving their wives to suffer. As a matter of fact, their wives would be perfectly capable of having kids, but men would STILL take on a second wife, without even caring about his first wife’s feelings.
So, I really don’t understand why God even allowed men to take on a second wife in the first place, KNOWING very well how cruel, heartless, and selfish humans can be? Humans are not perfect at all and for God to assume that all men are saints and would follow this whole rule about “choice” is rather deceiving. Besides, even if a man ASKS his wife’s permission to take on a second wife, in order to have kids, what does he expect his wife to say? She has no choice but to agree, even though the thought of her husband with another woman would shatter her. No woman in her right mind would be perfectly okay with her husband taking on another wife, solely for the excuse of wanting to have kids. These women sacrifice their whole lives for their husband’s wishes and happiness. And as heartbreaking as this sounds, this is the sad reality. At least with artificial insemination, the woman is not having intercourse with another man (if she’s married); it’s done surgically. Yes, I know the sperm belongs to another man, but so what? The child will still belong to the woman, biologically, ‘cause her egg will be used to conceive it.
As for adopting a child, how is that any different from conceiving a child using a sperm donor? In both cases, the child won’t know who her/his father is. I am not saying that all children given up for adoption are disowned by their parents, but I am sure most don’t even know who their parents are. At least with artificial insemination, even if the woman uses some random dude’s sperm, she will be the real mother of that child. And besides, a woman, especially in this day and age, is perfectly capable of taking care of a child ALL on her own, without the need to rely on a man to provide support. It is ideal to have both the mother and father present around the child when she/he is growing up, but if a woman is capable of doing the tasks of both the mother and the father, then I really don’t see a problem with it. The child will have a family, regardless. And just to add a little further to this, adoption is supposedly prohibited in Islam; so now not only are women disallowed to get pregnant using sperm donors, but they also cannot adopt because it infringes on the conservative Islamic belief system! So what is a woman to do then? Give up all her dreams and wishes of ever having children because certain practices are considered wrong and taboo in her creed; and to which she is bound, or else she would have to face severe consequences?
Another person I debated with asked me how any woman, Muslim or Pukhtun, would accept artificial insemination as an alternative means to have children, and how many of these women would actually do it. My response to this individual was that when I said that I supported women pursuing artificial insemination to have children, I did not mean that I encourage all women to do it, but rather only those women who want to do it. I support those women 100%! The article mentions that about a hundred women per year go abroad to get it done, so yes, there is proof right there that Muslim women do do it and are perfectly okay with it. And, besides, artificial insemination is mostly prevalent in the West, as opposed to the East. So, most women are not aware of it. Not too long ago contraceptives were considered “haram” and taboo, but now more and more people in the Muslim world are starting to use and accept it, due to awareness to the harms of overpopulation on not only the poor families, but globally. Anyway, that’s a whole different topic, so I won’t go into it now.
I won’t deny that the article could be biased, in some day, as it only tends to show the reader ONE side of the story, which is how the conservatives want to ban artificial insemination, simply because they believe that it goes against religious and moral tenets.
However, I’d be more interested to read about the women’s reaction to this ban; THEIR particular thoughts about the ban, and why they disagree/agree with it.
It would definitely make the case more comprehensible.