Ramallah: A woman in the West Bank, who approached an infertility centre demanding artificial insemination, was instructed to approach the Palestinian Supreme Fatwa Council and obtain an official document to authorise the operation. The woman’s fiance is lodged in an Israeli prison.

The Council had issued a fatwa authorising artificial insemination for the wives of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails after wives, or fiancees, approached infertility centres to have babies.

However, the fatwa forbids artificial insemination of virgin women.

Bachelor prisoners have been signing marriage contracts in jail and smuggling their sperm out to get their wives impregnated. The new fatwa makes this illegal unless the duration of the prison term is so long that having children later would be impossible. “The ages of the couple will also be compared to the imprisonment to evaluate the couple’s chances of producing children when they unite,” the fatwa said.

“Artificial insemination will be authorised only to produce the first child and will be allowed one time only,” the fatwa said, adding that the woman’s pregnancy should be made public to the community.

Insemination, according to the fatwa, is only allowed in cases where the couple have tried unsuccesfully to conceive naturally. According to the fatwa, unused sperm must be destroyed.

At least seven wives of prisoners have already been officially announced as being pregnant and others are waiting for the results of their inseminations, Dr Zaid Nasser of the Razan Infertility Centre in Nablus, said. “In several cases, wives of prisoners have come to the centre for artificial insemination. We receive the sperm samples and test them in the presence of both sets of families,” he told Gulf News.

“Some of the smuggled sperm samples are valid, but others are not. We destroy those in the presence of the families.”

At the present, only one woman has delivered a baby boy, Muhanad, as a result of artificial insemination.