Friday, June 5, 2009

Fertility and religion

The Bible encourages reproduction, but puts bounds on sexuality, and so religious couples seeking treatment for infertility need to navigate carefully. For orthodox Jews, the Puah Institute (named after one of the two Hebrew midwives in the story of the birth of Moses) helps with this navigation. Here's a story about rabbinical supervision of medical fertility treatments involving in vitro fertilization: How to make a kosher baby.

Some of the particular issues that arise with in vitro fertilization involve how to be sure, in a legal sense, who the parents are. (This is presumably also one of the reasons behind the restriction of sex to marriage in so many cultures, when sex was the only reproductive option.)

The problem of how to integrate new technological and commercial possibilities with ancient customs, rules, and practices is very clear when those are religious in nature. But similar problems also present themselves in secular society, in dealing e.g. with issues like surrogacy, or compensation for sperm and egg donors in ways that navigate around repugnance.

In only slightly related news (but still on the subject of being fruitful, and making sure your children have the right parents), the cost of arranged marriages is going up among Israel's most orthodox Jews: Haredi matchmaking rates skyrocketing

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