A friend is considering giving some of her eggs to another woman to have a baby. Is this a moral issue? What does the Bible say about such a thing?
There is indeed a moral concern with donated gametes. Though some have expressed concern as to whether this can be constituted as adultery, I believe this term is best left for the physical act itself.
The relevant biblical passages are first Genesis 2:24, which introduces the concept of “one flesh.” Many scholars describe children as an expression of a couple becoming one flesh. Even if this specific connection is not accepted, it is clear that a third flesh has been introduced into the marriage relationship with donated gametes, either eggs or sperm. In my mind this is the most pressing moral issue.
A second related passage is Genesis 16 and the story of Hagar and Ishmael. In a sense, Sarai “borrows” Hagar’s eggs to give Abram an heir when she has failed to do so herself. Though God respects and saves Hagar and Ishmael, the union is not blessed by God and Abram’s promised heir is still to come through Sarai later. Also note the emotional trauma this arrangement causes Sarai, Hagar and Abraham. The emotional issues cannot be overlooked. The egg donor will understandably feel a special kinship with the resulting child; after all, she is the genetic mother. This could easily put a strain on the marriage in which the child is raised that can be difficult to anticipate.
I would not counsel the acceptance or donation of either sperm or egg.
A helpful resource on these questions is a series of booklets put out by the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity called the BioBasic Series. They have three additional booklets covering suicide, end of life issues, and alternative medicine. Each is offered in a question and answer format. You can purchase them through the Center at www.cbhd.org. I am co-authoring a booklet in the next round of four on genetic engineering. I hope the next four will be released within 2002.