Where Do Babies Come From?
Wall Board: Where do babies come from?
Since the beginning of time, babies have been created through the same act of intimacy between one man and one woman. This is how populations grew.
The 1770s saw the first successful artificial insemination procedure, but since the 1980s reproduction techniques have exploded. As well as sperm donations (and how are these tracked and limited?), ova donations – a much more complex procedure- have become widespread, and mitochondrial DNA transfers, use of surrogates and IVF are everyday occurrences nowadays.
The drive for biological progeny, from Abraham’s time on, is embedded deeply in Judaism. The first Mizvah in the Torah is פרו ורבו, Be Fruitful and Multiply (Genesis 1: 28), and this is reflected by the fact that reproductive treatments are, in Israel, largely covered by the Health Funds. Israel has the highest birthrate in the OECD and includes babies born to single women, gays, lesbians, older women, etc., and others not in a normative couple: even the deceased can now father a child.
The project has grown out of Ruth Schreiber’s fascination with this topic as a woman, a mother and a Jew. Who claims the title ‘father’? The sperm donor or the man who raises the child? Who is the ‘mother’? The egg donor, the surrogate or the mitochondrial DNA donor? What does the science of epigenetics add? And will cloning enter the space soon? Different societies offer different, sometimes conflicting, answers, Halacha too. There is, as yet, little consensus.
Through animation videos, sculptures and a hologram Ruth Schreiber is shining a light here on a brave new world.