Underground Gamete Donation in Sunni Muslim Patients

Ya’arit Bokek-Cohen, Ibtisam Marey-Sarwan, Mahdi Tarabeih

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This qualitative study focuses on the "underground" practices of Sunni Muslim physicians and patients who are performing and undergoing religiously prohibited third-party gamete donation. It is based on face-to-face interviews with two Sunni Muslim gynecologists and 25 Sunni Muslim women who underwent third-party gamete donation treatments and gave birth to a baby. The analysis of the interviews sheds light on patients' experiences regarding donation and explores the experiences of the gynecologists. The patients shared with us their inner conflict regarding childbearing using either donated sperm or a donated egg. They expressed a subversive attitude toward the religious authorities and the Islamic fatwa (religious ruling) that prohibits third-party gamete donation. The gynecologists provide fertility care involving third-party gamete donation despite Islamic religious prohibitions; in consequence, they suffer feelings of guilt for their actions. The study participants challenge accepted binary conceptions regarding the boundaries between religious laws and the desire to produce offspring, between what is allowed and what is forbidden, between guilt and happiness, and between the desire to maintain a marital relationship and the desire to comply with cultural–religious rules. Based on Gloria Anzaldua’s theory of the borderlands, and the context-informed approach, this study underscores the importance of giving voice to Sunni Muslim patients who underwent third-party gamete donation treatments and contributes to a deeper understanding of their dilemma of finding a reproductive solution that does not run counter to religious values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2905-2926
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Donor insemination
  • Egg donation
  • Gamete donation
  • Islam
  • Sperm donation


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