As scientific progress in the realm of assisted reproduction and biotechnology continues to race ahead, the next revolutionary breakthrough on the horizon is the prospect of womb transplantation. Fertility doctors around the world are researching how to attain the first human pregnancy following a womb transplant. The world’s first human womb transplant was first attempted in Saudi Arabia in 2000 with some success . On the 9th of August 2011, the world’s second human womb transplant was performed in Turkey and thus far it has been considered to be a success, since the new uterus has been inside the recipient for more than 120 days without any complications. We await to see whether it can successfully carry a foetus to term.

The purpose of womb transplantation is to restore fertility to patients with an abnormal, damaged, or absent uterus. In the UK alone, it is estimated that approximately 15,000 women per year who seek the help of fertility specialists are found to be incapable of becoming pregnant because of uterine factor infertility. Even though these women may have functioning ovaries, the lack of a functioning womb means they have no chance of gestating their own child to term. The only other option for such woman to achieve genetic motherhood is via surrogacy. For Muslim women, surrogacy is regarded as prohibited in Islam and thus not an option. The possibility of womb transplantation would provide a welcome means by which these women could experience gestational and genetic motherhood. However, this advance raises a host of legal and bioethical questions that have thus far been relatively neglected in legal and Islamic and Western bio-ethical discourse. Should this “non-life-saving transplant” be permissible? Is it akin to the transplantation of any other major organ or does it raise separate and unique ethical questions? This presentation outlines the research currently underway into this advance and considers the legal, bio-ethical and regulatory ramifications this advance could raise.


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  • Accepted: 23 June 2012
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