[Avodah] In revolutionary ruling, rabbis allow gender selection

Prof. Levine llevine at stevens.edu
Tue Jan 1 15:23:17 PST 2013

 From http://tinyurl.com/b2gfquv

Until now, rabbis have forbidden any intervention 
to select the sex of baby • But Jewish fertility 
center founder Rabbi Menachem Burstein says an 
increase in the number of requests stemming from 
deep psychological needs has prompted rabbis to reconsider.

After years in which rabbis forbade any sort of 
gender selection at conception, a recent 
revolutionary Halachic (Jewish legal) ruling has 
now deemed it permissible to intervene and select 
the gender of a fetus in certain situations.

The ruling was to be officially issued at a 
conference on Wednesday organized by the Puah 
Institute, which offers fertility treatments in line with Jewish law.

"There are three ways to select the gender of a 
fetus,” Institute founder Rabbi Menachem Burstein 
said. “The first way is the most natural, and 
depends on the man and the exact time the woman 
ovulates. Another method involves putting the 
sperm in a special apparatus to separate the male 
[Y chromosome] sperm from the female [X 
chromosome] sperm. The third method involves in vitro fertilization."

According to Burstein, rabbis have forbidden any 
kind of intervention until now.

"It is considered to be the spilling of seed, and 
a gross intervention, which is generally 
unacceptable. But since the number of requests 
has been growing, and since sometimes the 
requests stem from a deep psychological need, it 
is possible to permit the second and third methods," he said.

"We have come across cases of people who felt it 
was important to have sons to carry on the family 
line because of the Holocaust, or families with 
six or seven daughters in which the father wants 
a son so much that it threatens the marriage. In 
cases like this, the matter will be examined by 
the appropriate rabbis, psychologists and medical 
committees, and clearly a Halachic compromise can be reached.

"Jewish law is making incredible strides as 
medicine advances. It is easiest always to say 
no, but sometimes, if the rules can be eased or 
and if solutions can be found then we should strive for that," he said.

Yitzchok Levine  
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