Abortion in the Religious Zionist Community

See below for an update.

In this week’s newspaper Makor Rishon, Yifat Erlich interviews couples in the national religious community who underwent abortions because of health problems with the fetus. Afraid of criticism from their close-knit communities, many ended up alone during this traumatic period.

More from the article:

  • Two medical clinics in Jerusalem treating risky pregnancies each reported that 70% of pregnant women in the national religious community undergo testing for Down’s Syndrome. (I presume this referred to blood tests and follow-up amniocentesis when indicated.) In 90% of the cases where Down Syndrome is detected, the couple decides to terminate the pregnancy. One of the doctors interviewed said that this statistic is not new, but people have begun talking about it. A higher number of abortions are being performed only because of more accurate testing.
  • Ten years ago, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner wrote an article encouraging older women (over 37) to become pregnant, and promised to “stand beside them” if a deformity would be discovered. This was understood to mean that in theory, he would rule to allow abortion in the case of Down Syndrome. Obstetricians hung the article in their offices and called the resulting babies “Aviner’s children.”
    In the Makor Rishon article Rabbi Aviner is quoted as saying that if the parents would not be able to cope, for instance if there are already many children, he would permit an abortion of a baby with Down Syndrome. In the case of CMV where it is not clear whether the baby has been affected, he leaves the decision up to the parents.

I am not sure that knowing that a rabbi might allow an abortion helps parents who end up in that place. Having to deal with the devastating news and make such a difficult decision—because you can never be certain how you will feel when it is real—is still a deterrent to pregnancy for older women. Also, pregnancy at a later age is riskier for the mother and should not be taken lightly. But Rabbi Aviner believes that the risk of one terminated pregnancy should not prevent two hundred healthy babies from being born.

The relatively liberal attitude in the national religious community toward termination of abnormal pregnancies reflects the overall Israeli attitude toward prenatal testing. Israel’s mothers undergo more prenatal testing, including multiple ultrasounds and state-of-the-art tests paid for by the government, than those of any other country. A doctor quoted in the article said that Israel has the world’s highest termination rates because of fetal defects.

The religious internet site Kipah has a new forum for support after pregnancy loss.

Updates:

  • Here is a link to the text of the article, posted on the Kipah forum. Thank you to commenter Keren.
  • Commenter Annie pointed out that according to this Ynet article, Israel’s overall abortion rate is lower than that of most countries in Europe, and dropping.
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Comments

  1. Israel’s mothers undergo more prenatal testing
    When I was pregnant with my youngest, I asked the nurse why the doctor had ordered a test to determine my blood type. After all, my blood type hadn’t changed since my previous pregnancy!

    She replied, “But it’s free! When a man or a non-pregnant woman wants to find out their blood type, they have to go to MDA and pay a lot of money for the test. But pregnant women don’t have to pay. So you should be happy that you get to have this test…”

  2. Ariela says:

    I thought it was a great article in Makor Rishon.

  3. Boy, m-i-I, you don’t shy away from the big ones. Thanks for putting this topic up for discussion. I can tell you one thing. There’s no easy abortion, and for a rav to suggest that his saying “it’s okay” makes it easy or can make it okay with the stroke of a pen is terribly short-sighted and more than a little insensitive. I sure hope I read this wrong, would like to give the benefit of the doubt, think there are many, many more details that I’m not reading here that feed the rabbis decisions.

  4. Interesting.

    I am part of an internet forum for religious women who are pregnant after infertility. Though I think the site as a whole skews to more charedi than what would be “national religious,” there is a huge stigma there against prenatal testing. Those who say that it is ok in order to garner information say they would never terminate. I wonder how much of their attitude is religious vs. the hurdles to getting pregnant in the first place.

  5. Bayla Moss says:

    Can you send me to the original article at Makor rishon, or tell me where I can find it in Hutz la’aretz?

  6. mominisrael says:

    Mrs. S., LOL. I think.
    Ariela, glad you think it’s a good topic.
    TD, some things need to be discussed openly.
    Kate, there are reasons to test even if you wouldn’t terminate. I think that when you are religious and infertile you may think a lot about how this was meant to be and terminating just doesn’t fit in with that. The 90% figure surprised me.
    Bayla, the articles usually go up on the site on Monday, and I plan to link to it then.

  7. Ariela says:

    My husband works in genetic testing and there are MANY haredi families who choose to terminate pregnancies after finding out the fetus is affected.
    I went thru 2 terminations for severe problems with the fetus and the article really reflected how I felt before during and after. I thought it was wonderful.
    therapydoc – have you had any contact with children who suffer from severe illness? It often changes a person’s perspective. Never judge another person until you stand in their shoes (I believe pirkei avot says that).

  8. rickismom says:

    2 Caveats before I write:
    1) I am Chareidi (not national religious) (although more of an American-style Chareidi….)
    2) I have a 14 year old daughter who is lively, opinionated, spunkey, charming, and…she has Down syndrome.

    My thoughts:

    1) Anyone who wants to limit their childbearing to early years due to the possibility of Down syndrome, may be in for a big shock. While the risk does go up with age, since the younger women have a higher fertility rate, more babies with DS are born to younger moms than older ones. In communities where women continue high rates of childbearing to older years, the statistics are slightly different, but we have in Bnai Brak several mothers in their twenties with children with DS.
    2) Women who have never had a baby with a disability are likely to look upon the mythical “might have” child with DS much as one looks at a monster. I also used to pray to G-d: -If You have to give me a child with a disability, let it be pysical. I could never handle having a child with “retardation”.
    Surprise, surprise, I had a child with DS, and my life continued, my kids are getting married, etc.

    Every mother of a child with DS who I have spoken to who knew prenatally that her baby had Down sndrome, said that the person they feared giving birth to was SO much worse than the actual child.

    I THINK THAT MANY ARE ABORTING BECAUSE OF THE IMAGE THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY HAS GIVEN US — That children with DS are some type of monster that must be done away with.

    Also, I have met many women who went on to have their baby with DS, even tho’ their Rav gave a “heter” to abort, because an emotional bond had been formed.

    3)I am extreemely surprised that in the modern orthodox there is a 90% abortion rate????!? Can this be true??? That is the rate of abortion in the US! Are we no better than a community that has no belief in G-d???

    4) When I read here at the top that Rav Aviner will “stand behind” couples who discover that there child has a problem, I never DREAMPT he meant abortion! To me to stand behind these parents would be to make their lives easier, and their children accepted in the community.

    I will hopefully be posting on this tomarrow……

  9. Dear Rickismom,
    I love your blog and your honest stories of life with a child with DS and with a (difficult?) teenager. As the mother of teenagers I find much wisdom in your blog. However, Ricki is healthy, intellegent and functions great. I have friends who had a baby with DS with chronic heart disease and gastrointestinal issues. She went thru 2 open heart surgeries and was almost constantly hospitalized. Her poor little body gave out when she was almost a year old. The child suffered terribly for her entire short life. This child never made eye contact or smiled. She never sat up, turned over or crawled. Her parents did a fantastic job dividing their time between being with her at the hospital and taking care of their other small children. Perhaps Rav Aviner is refering to cases like that?
    I can also tell you that my sister-in-law got married at 38 and had 4 children between ages 39-43. She would NEVER have done that if it had not been for prenatal testing. So we can thank Rav Aviner for my nieces and nephews.

  10. jumping in, but this is a scary topic! I have some beliefs on this topic, and some anecdotes. First the anecdotes – my midwife worked at Hadassah for many years, and she had to participate in many abortions, many of them late in term. One story stuck out – a religious women aborting 26 week HEALTHY twins – because she didn’t feel that their family could cope financially. I feel that is incredibly wrong, and I wonder if you could legislate to not allow that sort of thing – she said there were many other cases like that – abortions for no good reason, of healthy children. Especially given so many women who would give a lot to have a healthy child, it seems wrong to do something like that.

    On the other hand I think I myself would abort a child which had severe health problems – one which was not going to live a happy life – like Ariela mentions. That seems to me to be a kindness, and thank goodness there is prenatal testing which can pick up those sorts of conditions. However I don’t think simple Down Syndrome (with only retardation, or minor physical problems) is a good enough reason to abort. I’ve seen a lot of these kids – they are generally happy sunny individuals, who bring a lot of joy to their families. I feel like having children is never 100% guaranteed, and we should be ready to shoulder the responsibility if we don’t get the “perfect” child we wanted.

    Another thing which is scary is how many people do amniocentesis here – a very invasive test, with a high risk of miscarriage from it – I have heard many stories of women who did it, then lost the baby, which when tested was found to be perfectly healthy. This is tragic and I think amnios should be used only if needed – not at a mother’s neurotic request!

    Right I hope I haven’t offended anyone here – this is a topic where naturally we all hold strong views. Just for some background – I have a thankfully healthy little boy, but at 17 weeks we found a spot on his heart – echogenic focus – which is a soft marker for Down Syndrome. We decided not to do an amnio, as I was ready (not willing, just ready) to deal with it if that was to be. Thankfully it didn’t come to pass.

  11. Katherine, I think you do a good job of describing how complex this issue it. However, it is often not possible to know how severe DS is from amnio or US. There are other gray areas like those mentioned in the original article in Makor rishon. For example, if a fetus is infected with CMV it is often impossible to know if it will be fine or severely disabled mentally and physicaly.
    I always thought that if I had all my chidlren by 35 I would not have to deal with these issues. Unfortunately, as rikismom says, things don’t always work out as you planned.

  12. Ariela, you’re right. You also remind me that the amnio I think doesn’t always give 100% correct answers – I have heard of cases where it was wrong in its diagnosis. Also, the other prenatal tests are most definitely statistical in nature – you’re aborting on some chance of the test being correct. Then again the potential consequences either way are serious.

    Having children – not for the faint of heart!

  13. Mrs. S.,
    I’m sure you’re aware why the Israelites took two tablets; they were free…
    This attitude is what drives up health care costs.

    I’m curious how a rabbi can base his decision on how the family will accept it. This is a matter of life and death. I think all deliberations should evolve whether “it” is a human.

  14. *revolve

  15. Hershey, I don’t think anyone is debating whether or not these abortions mean killing a baby – they do. The question is really whether or not the baby is going to live a short and very painful life, in which case it seems kinder to abort, or whether parents are aborting a child solely because it is inconvenient to deal with a child who is not “perfect”. The problem I think is that often you can’t tell how severe the problems are.

    I’m interested – what is the Jewish perspective on abortion? I got the impression it was more lenient/sensible than the Catholic/Christian perspective (none at all costs).

    My perspective on abortion changed completely once I’d had a baby – I used to think it was okay to abort in the first trimester, as it wasn’t really anything real. Seeing a heartbeat from 6 weeks completely changed my perspective. Now I think mothers should have the choice, but I think any abortion of a healthy baby is tragic – if it was possible, a better solution would be for the mother to have the baby and give it up for adoption.

  16. Hershey, what country are you living in? Health care costs are sky high in America. Here in Israel, I think they’re relatively under control, at least for a typical family that isn’t dealing with extraordinary medical circumstances. Our monthly Maccabi bill is relatively low, even with Maccabi Zahav (the “extra” insurance you can pay for on top of the standard HMO), even with the odd childbirth every few years. Our dental visits are covered, our prescription meds are mostly covered, i needed physical therapy for a few weeks and that was covered too, with only a doctor’s referral.

    I can’t complain about health costs being driven up here.

  17. mominisrael says:

    Thanks to all the commenters who have shared their perspective–I’ve found the discussion enlightening.
    Katherine, I truly hope that the story about the healthy twins is inaccurate. It makes me physically ill. Several organizations give financial aid to mothers in need. 26 weeks? In a public hospital? Sickening.
    Abortion is permitted to save the life of the mother, and her psychological well-being is considered within that. For instance, most rabbis permit aborting in the case of Tay-Sachs, when the child will be seriously ill and die within a few years. But I understood the issue to be the psychological trauma of the mother.
    In the article Rabbi Aviner mentioned “horaah ubarit, a situation where the fetus will die in utero or soon after birth, or will life a life that is not a life because of severe mental deficiency or serious physical deformities.”
    I don’t know that all rabbis accept “horaah ubarit.” But I am far from an expert on this topic.

  18. That is really interesting. I would have thought otherwise (regarding the high termination rates). But as far as the (excessive? necessary?) amounts of testing – Americans are shocked when I tell them how many ultrasounds and tests I was told to have… And I (was/am) young and low risk.

  19. MII, the story was sadly true – she was present at the abortion. She said it made her ill how many babies she had to see aborted which were healthy. Now she is a happy homebirth midwife and doesn’t have to deal with that sort of thing 🙂

    Also Israel apparently has no limits as to how late you can abort – can anyone else verify that? Which is just sickening to my mind – I think late term abortions should only be allowed for severe defects/genetic abnormalities.

    I’m waiting for the crazies to descend on this post but so far no-one has – how dull 🙂 maybe you should cross post to dovbear? ar ar!

  20. Katherine I know what you say about no limits about abortion, to not be correct. There are laws about when and why you can abort. If you are a married woman with a healthy baby you have to convince/prove to a committee that having the baby will cause you physical or physiological harm. If you say it will cause you psychological harm they send you to a psychologist. Of course there must be plenty who say they will become suicidal if they will have the baby, go to the psychologist and have the abortion. But it is still a filter for those not prepared to go so far.
    I couldn’t find anything in English but this is the Hebrew information.

  21. This is definitely a hot topic. I suppose Charedim can be as selfish as secular folks when it comes to wanting the “perfect” child . The problem is – where does it end? According to the not-so-accurate testing of the 1970’s , I was supposed to be a boy and , of course , there was joy all around , until the day I was born the undesirable gender in my family . If those tests had been correct , I would not be an intelligent , productive adult in my 30’s . I would never have had a chance.
    The word of a Rabbi is NOT the word of the Creator . If someone feels that terminating a life is intrinsically wrong , then it is certainly going to bring her heartache and nothing a Rabbinical “authority” will say will fix the hurt . I wonder how many of these women are “persuaded” to abort by male relatives hoping for the perfect heirs.
    To abort or not to should be a choice determined long before the term when one would get amniocentesis . Do these women even get counseling after the fact?
    And “life not being life” ? that sounds and awful lot like Eugenics , folks . And we know what happens when you open that can of worms .

  22. Mia – good – well at least that. Although from these stories it seems it is easy to act suicidal.

    I’d like to think if I wanted to abort a healthy baby I would be able to carry it to term and give it up for adoption – I wonder if I could actually do so (if for some non medical reason I felt I didn’t want the baby).

  23. oh and another topic of which I know little – but which has a connection to this issue.

    Aren’t less than “perfect” babies (DS, etc) which are born potentially a problem for shidduchim for the other siblings in the Chareidi community – and hence also for that reason aborted? Or is this just a nasty aspersion written about by various secular authors?

  24. mominisrael says:

    Elie, thanks for visiting. They tried to limit the number of permitted ultrasounds and the moms rose up in protest.
    Katherine, yes, Mia is correct. You have to go through a committee, but it’s not hard to get a private abortion. If you are under 19? or over 40, or the pregnancy is outside of marriage, it’s permitted automatically.
    Mika, thanks for visiting. I know that there are genetic counselors in the hospitals that do testing.

  25. mominisrael says:

    Katherine, that’s why Rickismom mentioned that her children got married. Most of the time, but not all, DS has no genetic component. You can be tested for it before pregnancy. The age of the man is also a factor, I believe.

  26. To Katherine – theoretically , 5,000 years ago , there MAY have been such a problem . To the best of my knowledge , that went out with sitting on rocks . I know Charedim who have “different” children who have no issues in the community and not only are their kids married , some of the disabled kids are as well . but this could vary from place to place . I wouldn’t want my kid to marry into the family of a bigot myself . Certain secular authors tend to use either the worst-case scenarios or sometimes products of their own imagination to discredit Charedim .

  27. Mika I’m glad to hear it – nice point about not wanting to marry into such a family anyway.

    yup I think authors do like to create drama…

  28. Genetic issues are definitely a factor in charedi marriages. There are genetic testing institutes that will “certify” prospective marriage partners whose siblings have genetic defects (my cousins have 2 siblings with fragile x syndrome. All three are married, but the two who married charedi had to get certified that they are not carriers before the marriages could proceed.

    On the flip side, my brother has a sister in law whom both she and her husband are carriers for cystic fibrosis. They currently have 7 children altogether FOUR of whom have CF. When the doctor begged to tie her tubes after the last birth (which she claimed was the result of failed birth control; she said the previous one was also a bc glitch), the rav with whom they consulted last minute said “Let’s not be too hasty”. To me, that’s simply insane.

  29. I don’t know much about CF, but I do have a friend who is about 33, who has CF, and seems to enjoy good quality of life. I think he’s glad his mother didn’t abort him. Not that he is 100% healthy, but still – he isn’t always in the hospital either.

    The only genetic testing we did was to test my husband for Tay Sachs – the rest I didn’t bother. I am not Jewish though, so the expectation was that we would have fewer problems, not that that stopped the doctors from offering the tests. I felt like testing for something which has a one in a six thousand chance was pretty pointless – maybe I am a bit happy go lucky? And I felt I wouldn’t abort a baby with CF, just like I wouldn’t abort one with Down Syndrome.

  30. A lot of people in a lot of communities undergo genetic screenings prior to having children , not just Charedim . Everyone with an iota of intellect knows that DS and other similar conditions are not genetic as with many physiological abnormalities such as Spina Bifida . We are all aware of Dor Yeshorim conducting Tay-Sachs screenings , which does make sense given the prevalence of the condition . I’ve never heard of an instance where someone was considered “ineligible” based on a sibling having Down Syndrome . But I also do live in Canada , where people often have fewer potential partners to choose from .
    I also know of many Catholics and Muslims outright forbidden to use birth control by clerics who tell them they are not allowed to stop at 6 kids they can’t afford. Over-use of perceived authority happens across the spectrum .
    Also , just because SOME people choose to act in a reprehensible way does not mean that ALL members of a community behave in such a fashion . Charedim are far more diverse than the mainstream press would like people to believe .

  31. Mommy in Israel,
    Of course your medical costs are low; the government foots the bill. What I said is that this practice of performing unneeded tests and prescribing unneeded meds is what drives up healthcare costs in the US. Hey, don’t take it from me; Obama said that.
    Kathie,
    So much is said about the Judeo-Christian values that we often forget about the differences between them. Judaism considers a BORN baby to be a nefel until 30 days after birth that followed a full 9-month pregnancy. It is only considered a fetus from the 7th week. A heartbeat is no more an indication of life than living cells which multiply and group; it’s only shows a more complex system of colonized cellular life.
    Anybody here remember the law in Mishpotim? If a man will kick a pregnant woman and she will miscarry, he shall pay as estimated by the HUSBAND of the woman. (Hey, it might have even been a boy. I lost another pair of hands in the farm, you bastard!)

  32. Hershey- Yes, the government pays for medical care from the TAXPAYERS’ money. (I love it when Americans imagine that the government pays for healthcare from some mythical, anonymous source) So, we all pay for our medical care, at least the vast majority of us. And, again, our medical costs are relatively under control. We pay around 600 Shekel a month for the extra insurance, in addition to whatever taxes get taken out of our salary monthly. So, so much for your (or Obama’s) thesis that too much testing drives up health care costs, because in our case, it simply isn’t true.

    In the case of the US, bloated insurance company administration costs, which force individual doctors to expand their own administration costs just to deal with paperwork and wrangle with the insurance companies, is what drives up medical care cost. In addition to the enormous amount of money the insurance companies charge for all the tests, which makes everyone, doctors and insurance companies, that much more money. Since our HMOs don’t have profit incentives and don’t exist to squeeze every last dime out of its customers, we don’t have all those bloated administration costs and sky high test charges. Our doctors don’t make more money for sending us for more tests.

    The problems of the US healthcare system are vast. We have many problems here, but thank God, healthcare is not one of them.

  33. >In the article Rabbi Aviner mentioned “horaah ubarit, a situation where the fetus will die in utero or soon after birth, or will life a life that is not a life because of severe mental deficiency or serious physical deformities.”

    May I ask at what trimester we are talking about here?
    If it is late in the pregnancy, I thought Judaism viewed it as a baby, not a fetus already. If this is so, then what difference is if you abort it because of mental illness, or if a man commits suicide because of mental illness or physical deformity?

  34. Ben-David says:

    Before Abbi and others start crowing about Israel’s health care system….

    Under socialized medicine (“the government pays for medical care from the TAXPAYERS’ money”) Israeli healthcare was substandard, service was surly and uneven, and the system was perennially bankrupt. Kinda like the bad old days when “Bezek” (Israeli telephone company) was a government monopoly.

    Not to mention the black market for private procedures – which amounted to de facto rationing that favored those of means.

    The system we now enjoy is the result of free-market reforms. For most of us, that includes monthly charges related to extended coverage, and copayments on visits and medicines.

    In other words, the Israeli HMOs can finally charge market rates for certain services and procedures – negotiated and regulated, but reflecting market demand and real costs.

    This is also how cutting-edge medical technologies are encouraged – first they are costly and available only off-the-plan in private clinics. Then as both the technology and the demand mature, they are gradually included in the HMO coverage plans. Think ultrasound, laser eye treatments, etc.

    The problems with US healthcare stem from regulations and policies that deviate from the free market. In particular:

    – a tax structure that lets businesses deduct health insurance, but not private citizens. This one change would probably enable “universal health care” without socialized medicine.

    – state legislators giving have mandated all kinds of unnecessary coverage – lollipops for election-time – making it impossible for HMOs to offer the same plan nationwide, and impossible for consumers to comparison-shop. There is legislation in the works to counterract this.

    – Widespread policy of treating the uninsured in emergency rooms, then sticking the government with the bill. This sounds cruel, but you get what you fund.

  35. I’m not sure how you can claim that Israel has the world’s highest termination rates. The truth is almost the complete opposite!

    http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3642871,00.html

    “Last year’s overall abortion rate was the lowest in Israel since the early 1990s, and the Israeli abortion rate is, after Greece, the lowest of all European Union nations, with a rate of 133.8 for every thousand births, compared to the EU’s average of 246 per 1,000 births.”

    I hope you correct your post. It gives the completely wrong impression of Israel.

  36. mominisrael says:

    Annie, thanks for the informative link. The Ynet article is talking about all abortions, and a doctor interviewed in the Makor Rishon referred to the world’s highest termination rate because of fetal defects. But I will clarify and add the link to the post.

  37. a doctor friend once suggested to me that one reason frum people delay notifying others about pregnancies until obvious is to preserve the ability to terminate discretely.

    not directly related, but premarriage genetic testing is one area where i think haredim are way ahead of MO, at least in the US (not to say that i agree with the approach of dor yesharim)

    KATHERINE:

    “Aren’t less than “perfect” babies (DS, etc) which are born potentially a problem for shidduchim for the other siblings in the Chareidi community – and hence also for that reason aborted? Or is this just a nasty aspersion written about by various secular authors?”

    i have no idea if this is a reason for abortions, but a sibling with any type of physical/mental issues (genetic or otherwise) definately renders one a sug bet shidduch (unless there are some overiding factors).

  38. Ariella says:

    I don’t mean this to be taken as a criticism of the women who abort due to the diagnosis given. But the fact is that you really never know how the child will turn out. I know someone who had a perfectly healthy baby. But he contracted meningitis (the theory is that the mother may have had an untreated form of strep and passed it on to the baby during birth). The baby’s bris had to be delayed many weeks, and he was hospitalized several times in his very young life because he not only lost the ability to feed but to breathe. Then he improves but sometimes relapses. He may have permanent brain damage, but all this could not have been anticipated during early pregnancy.

  39. MII:

    intersting post

    “I am not sure that knowing that a rabbi might allow an abortion helps parents who end up in that place.”

    i think it would help greatly. there are 2 psychological factors involved in abortion. one is the maternal aspect and the other is the moral aspect. the rabbi may or may not be able to offer comfort in former, but rabbinic sanction could help put any moral angst to rest. i think this becomes more true as one moves further along rightward into the relgigious spectrum with individuals who are more likely to consult rabbis for these types of questions.

  40. ARIELLA:

    the story you tell is a sad one (hoping the baby is ok now), but how does it relate to a situtaion where there is prenatal evidence of a problem?

    “you really never know”

    every health care decision involves a process of cost (risk)-benefit analysis (yeah, i know that sounds cold)

  41. Ariella says:

    That, LOZ is the point. Though we can anticipate conditions and turn the odds in our favor, a fluke thing can happen to turn it all upside down. The odds may indicate that the baby will be perfectly healthy, but then he is in critical condition long enough to cause a chronic problem. As for this baby, as far as I know he is once again home, but the long term effects may only be manifest by the milestone markers later on, i.e. walking, talking. He has been receiving hours of therapy since he was just a a week or so old.

  42. ARIELLA:

    i’m still not sure of the point. i mean i get your point that at the end of the day nothing is in our hands, but the situation you describe is not analogous to the controversial one above. in the situation you describe all was normal during pregnancy. nothing could have been done differently,
    the issue is when there is information indicating in advance that there might be a problem and how to act on that information. sometimes the information is not 100% certain. then you have to take account are the lab results a fluke or accurate.

    (i could be wrong, but i thought they check for strep before labor?)

  43. rickismom says:

    2 Points:
    ARIELLA- You mention a child with Down s. who was seriously ill, made no eye contact, and died. Thais is NOT the norm for children with DS. While they have overall, a 50% rate of heart defects, almost all survive, and in many cases the holes close on their own without surgery. Eye contact may come a bit late (3 monthes instead of one), but almost all have eye contact. It sounds like this baby had lung involvement (rare), or an additional diagnosis.

    Shiduchim and chareidi community:
    Since Down syndrome is not heriditary (except in RARE cases, and this is not the 40 year olds with 6 previous kids…), and today people know this. So very few shiduchim are ruined due to DS. Again, diabetes would be much more of a problem, and are you going to give away a child with diabetes??? Those few who don’t want to marry us because of DS aren’t worth it anyway, if they are such “tembelim”…..

    TESTING FOR GENETIC:
    The testing in the chareidi community is actually a very good idea, as this testing is for problems that occur only if both parents are carriers of a recessive gene. NO ONE (not even the carriers) know who is a carrier.People are identified by number, and you call in the two numbers. If both are carriers for the SAME disease, they are told that the match is not good. In such a case, they know that they are both carriers of something (which disease?), and since BOTH are carriers, they BOTH shut up as to why the match was not proceeded with

  44. christine brown says:

    i was 21 when i gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.who happens to be downsydrome.she is now 28 soon to be 29.she has been agreat joy and i am glad that i am her mom…………we can’t all be movie stars.or perfect.could you imagine a world where everybody was perfect…………life is important at every stage..the unborn should allways be protected.

  45. Ariella says:

    Dor yeshorim offers genetic testing on the model rickismom describes. They have the standard diseases like TaySachs and some others they test for. But they refuse to run the test for certain things, like the breast cancer gene. There are other avenues to test oneself and get the results. But Dor Yeshorim, which is chareidi run is concerned that people will feel “defective” and worth less in the shidduch market if they know themselves to be carriers. Also Dor Yeshorim will only offer the compatibility results only at the early stage of the shidduch, not for engaged couples.

    LOZ: that is just it. Tests and precautions are no guarantee. Actually there is a test for the strep carried by the mother. So I don’t know if the doctors here are somewhat at fault. I remember getting a prescription for antibiotics during one of my pregnancies because I had a symptomless case of what the doctor described as strep. I had no idea at the time that the consequences could be so devastating if the condition is not detected and treated. But, really, you never know. I had a preterm baby as a result of placental abruption the day after a completely normal checkup. Happily, she turned out fine. But I had absolutely no risk factors then — she was my second — and carried the next kids to terms with normal delivery even though the preemie was delivered by C-section.

  46. MII, interesting topic, though one that generally gives me (and my wife) the willies. My wife and I had some brief discussions about this after we were married, but only very brief. The thinking was that if God forbid a decision ever needs to be made, we would talk more at that time. Baruch Hashem, we never had to have that further discussion.

    LOZ – there are 2 psychological factors involved in abortion[space]

    And maybe a third factor is the “ick” factor, that of realizing that you are killing something important that is growing inside of you. This is a factor affecting the father as well as the normal maternal factor affecting the mother (who indeed feels the life growing inside of her womb). This is especially true nowadays with all those ultrasounds that often show the growing baby very clearly (and our last two were twins, so my wife got to have an ultrasound every few weeks).

    Putting the typical abortion question (Roe v. Wade which always generated the longest threads ever, anywhere, anytime, on all discussion boards or blogs) aside. I put it aside because there is no real point arguing about that since few people are likely to change their minds about it, and almost everyone is firmly in one camp or another. Anyway, for something much more controversial, I think that abortion should sometimes, though very rarely, be required, yes, required. I think that in cases in which the baby is so damaged that after being born, it will live a short, painfully agonizing life, it really ought to be killed while still in the womb. Perhaps it can be looked upon as a kal vachomer of tzaar baalei chayim. Not to equate human and animal life in any way, but if we are unwilling to let a mere animal suffer for no purpose, how much more so should we be unwilling to let a human being suffer for no purpose? However, only Hashem knows the true answer to these questions.

  47. I wrote a long post straight after this went up, but it got lost, and it was too difficult to rewrite
    Here is the link to the article as it was reproduced on the Kipa support after pregnancy lost forum
    Anyone reading hebrew will find reading the posts attached interesting too
    http://www.kipa.co.il//community/show.asp?messageid=4908532

    I want to mention that the main focus of the article was not on downs syndrome but mainly on families who terminated a pregnancy because the child would die soon after birth.
    An emphasis was also on the fact that no one talks about this and no one shares with any one at all if they did terminate a pregnancy.

    re Ultrasound tests, many are done to diagnose conditions that can be treated straight after birth, not to decide on abortions, e.g. heart defects that will require immediate operation

  48. mominisrael says:

    Thanks, Keren. I updated the post to include the link.

Trackbacks

  1. […] May 2009 · No Comments Here is an interesting post from A Mother in Israel on abortion within the Religious Zionist community. […]

  2. […] midwives and doctors as well as other anecdotal evidence (and somewhat confirmed here at the blog a mother in israel is that in the religious Zionist community selective abortion for disability occurs at a pretty […]

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