Is it permissable for an umarried woman (of advanced maternal age, 41 y,o.) to have a child by IVF or AI, and will the child be considered born out of a wedluck. Thank you.
The consensus of halachic authorities is to discourage AI or IVF of single women, but there is also consideration of a woman's passionate desire to bring her own children into the world.
The concerns include: potential marriage of child to a prohibited relative; status of child of unknown fatherhood; possible slander of the single, pregnant woman; and breach of modesty and disruption of family structure.
The most problematic case is from an anonymous Jewish donor, which is prohibited according to almost all authorities, the least problematic case is from a known Jewish donor, and from a non-Jewish donor (the majority in the States) is in between. Without doubt, the ideal solution is to find a proper soul mate with whom to establish a family.
It is highly advisable to consult Pu'ah Institute, who specialize in issues of fertility according to halacha and can guide you in your specific case.
For a further discussion of this topic, see: Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, "Single Motherhood and Artificial Insemination," and (in Hebrew) Assia vol. 77-78, Naomi Mei-Ami, Terumat Zera B'Yisrael, pp. 96-112; Rav Dr. Mordechai Halperin, Hazra'a l'Achar Hamavet – Issur v'Heter, pp. 113-123)
Rabbi Meir Orlian