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November 18, 1988 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

HEALTH

Modern
Miracle

IVF offers the only hope for some couples
who want a child, but it will be a long
time before some Jewish leaders can blend
this modern technology with Halachah

Susan endured a wide range of
tests and procedures; Brad was tested
Special to The Jewish News
to see if the problem was his. They did
S teven Grey's life began in not come up with an answer.
"We are part of that 10 percent of
a dish.
Eggs from his mother, infertile couples for whom the reason
Susan, were placed in the is unknown," Susan said. "That's the
dish together with his part that drove me crazy. We did
father's sperm. Then it went into an everything. I have five years of
temperature charts stacked up."
incubator.
The Greys ended up in the office
Steven was conceived, after years
of
Dr.
Jan Behrman, a fertility
of infertility tests, drugs and medical
specialist
who heads the IVF program
procedures, through in vitro fertiliza-
at Beaumont. After running Susan
tion (IVF).
Susan and Brad Grey are not their through the litany of tests and
real names. They are comfortable treatments, Dr. Behrman recom-
with the way Steven was conceived, mended IVF.
"This was the last shot; we had
but feel the process is still
done
everything else," Susan said.
misunderstood.
"When
we went there, they tried
"People are unsophisticated about
to
get
us
to
wait
a few months, but we
the procedure," Susan said. "Our'
family and close friends know, but I sort of talked our way into the pro-
need to protect my son and not let gram immediately. Once we had
everybody in the city know. I'd like to made our minds up, we had to do it
be the one to tell him, not some six- right away."
VF has provoked a great deal
year-old on the playground.
of discussion about the ethical
Ten years ago Louise Brown was
and moral consequences of
born in England, marking the first
successful birth through IVF. Since creating embryos outside the
then some 10,000 IVF babies have mother's body. But for the Greys,
been conceived. Of those, about 90 there was no other choice. They never
were born at William Beaumont and considered consulting a rabbi to
Hutzel, the two Detroit area hospitals determine whether IVF would be per-
misible under Jewish law.
that have IVF clinics.
"Morally, we had no doubt in the
IVF was the last thing on their
minds when Susan and Brad began to least that this was the right step,"
think about having children seven Brad recalled. "The decision was just
years ago. They had no indication that between us."
Had they spoken to a religious
they would have a problem.
"We tried, unaggressively, like authority, the Greys probably would
everybody else, for about six months," have found that their choice was ac-
Susan said. "I asked my gynecologist ceptable. Many Jewish leaders agree
about it, and he told me to relax. That that when conducted as in the Greys'
was the last I saw of him. I switched case, with sperm and egg taken from
doctors, gave it a few more months, the married couple, IVF presents few
halachic problems.
and then started to take action."

LISA JACKNOW ELLIAS

I

58

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1988

co
co

Dr. Lenny Hutton looks at a miracle.

"The Jewish viewpoint is that in-
fertility is considered to be an illness,
and Judaism requires an illness to be
healed," explained Dr. Fred Rosner,
director of medicine at • Queens
Hospital Center in Jamaica, N.Y. and
author of Modern Medicine and
Jewish Ethics.
"IVF cannot be used to get around
having a baby if doing so is possible
through normal means. But if a
woman is unable by normal and
natural means to be healed, it is
allowed."
The Reform branch of Judaism
supports this position, according to
Rabbi Lane Steinger of Temple
Emanu-El.
"The Reform point of view en-
courages parents to utilize medicine,
science and technology to have
children," Rabbi Steinger said. "Giv-
ing parents the opportunity to fulfill

the mitzvah of having children is
wonderful!'
Rabbi David Nelson of Congrega-
tion Beth Shalom said the Conser-
vative movement is still grappling
with the ethical issues involved in the
rapidly changing methods of dealing
with infertility. However, he feels that
IVF, as applied in the Greys' case, is
an appropriate step.

"Man is a junior partner with God
in the ongoing work of creation;' Rab-
bi Nelson said. "If we can help im-
prove God's world, I believe that is our
function. When we take persons striv-
ing to have children who can't for
some physical reason and are able to
bring that about, it's almost
miraculous.

"IVF is a very beautiful possibili-
ty, and I believe that within the Con-
servative approach many will find

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