Final Assignment – Rachel Spector

As the CEO of Sasquatch Hospital, I have been asked to craft a new policy proposal regarding assisted reproductive technologies and prenatal testing. I accepted this job just as the hospital was shifting away from its official association with the Catholic religion a few years ago. Over the past few years, I have gotten to know the many different populations that make up Sasquatch, Connecticut. I have also been in communication with anthropologists who, over the past year, have been talking in depth with our patients about their feelings on these assisted reproductive technologies. Although these conversations are limited in their confinement to the hospital setting, interview format, and absence of long-term relationships, they offer the best perspective we have on the population we are trying to serve. With such a diverse array of individuals in our lively community, we must take every voice into consideration. Nonetheless, it is impossible to please everyone in our quest to set regulations on healthcare. This new policy proposal certainly does not set a unified front for all the voices in our community; But I have worked diligently to address everyone’s concerns in a way that fosters cooperation between different religions and cultures.

The inevitable solution to a situation in which different groups of people have different objectives is to provide most services but restrict their usage. It is also important to appeal to our largely Irish Catholic donor base because without them, we cannot run this hospital. We should take their perspective into account when making policy influencing pregnancy. We should not subsidize abortion or IVF services because doing so would contribute money from donors towards initiatives they do not approve of. Additionally, the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Connecticut funds all abortions that are medically necessary as per Doe v. Maher in 1986. Medical necessity is decided by the physician of a patient. It includes “health care provided to correct or diminish the adverse effects of a medical condition or mental illness; to assist an individual in attaining or maintaining an optimal level of health; to diagnose a condition; or to prevent a medical condition from occurring. (Cohen, 2010: 1). We should fully cooperate with the DSS of Connecticut to allow under-insured patients to receive abortions under conditions where they are medically required. To reduce instances of abortion and unnecessary killing of what many Catholics deem as life, we should only allow it to be performed in situations when the mother’s or fetus’ life is at risk during the pregnancy or in instances of rape (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Alberto Bovone, 1987: 149). We should justify this position to non-Catholics who might seek abortions in other instances by claiming the need to reflect our Catholic roots to some degree. These patients would have to seek treatment elsewhere if they want abortions in other instances.

In addition to abortions, prenatal testing and amniocentesis are necessary provisions to allow people to exercise precautions in their pregnancy. In particular, members of the Jewish community utilize these resources (Ivry, 2010: 11). Individuals using this service at our hospital would not be able to terminate a pregnancy based on any genetic conditions they discover, however, because under my policy proposal the hospital wouldn’t allow voluntary abortions. Instead, they could use this information to prepare for the consequences of the genetic disease once the child is born. These services would also allow healthcare providers to ensure the health of the fetus and mother during the progression of the pregnancy. The restrictions placed on abortions, prenatal testing, and amniocentesis would appeal to our Irish Catholic donor base, so our hospital can continue to run under their generous financial contributions.

We should also provide In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments for our patients. Studies have shown that a small but significant portion of the Jewish and Lebanese Shi’ite communities use IVF as a way to overcome infertility. Though these studies were not conducted in the United States, the anthropologists at Sasquatch hospital have made similar conclusions among the Jewish American and American Lebanese Shi’ite communities. The statement made in Genesis that we should “be fruitful and multiply” has been interpreted by the Jewish community to be a commandment. The Jewish community places an emphasis on reproduction. Additionally, most religious leaders agree that life does not begin at conception. These reasons among others lead to the general acceptance of IVF among Jews (Kahn 2000:3). Shi’ite Islam promotes decision-making through the use of individual thought processes, also known as ijtihad, but practicing Shi’ites also hold the guidance of local religious leaders in high esteem. Most of these leaders have approved of IVF technology provided that certain precautions are taken. Shaikh Fadlallah, one of such religious leaders, and a Sunni religious leader both agreed that IVF is permissible when the gametes are provided by the couple that wishes to conceive through this process (Inhorn, 2006: 111). IVF is valued by important segments of our population, so we need to provide these services to them. It has been argued that the policies outlined above may offend the hospital’s Catholic donors. We may risk losing our funding from Catholic donors, but we hope the policy initiatives will attract new donors from different religions. If we attract enough new donors, we can reconsider subsidizing abortions and IVF.  Some Catholics will object to the use of IVF on the grounds that it gives scientists god-like power to make decisions on life and death.  They see life as beginning from conception. (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Alberto Bovone, 1987:156). They may point to the fact that some embryos are inevitably not transferred to a woman’s uterus, so they are left to expire.  The expiring of embryos is seen as equivalent to abortion. I would not try to convince these people to change their views, but I would remind them that the beginning of life is a subjective matter. As a non-denominational hospital, we cannot simply align our views with that of the Church’s. For example, many Jews believe life doesn’t begin until many days after conception Jews (Kahn 2000:3). But we should not also simply align our views with that of other religions like Judaism. Thus, we should only allow IVF in instances of sterility; so, for instance, a woman would not be allowed to utilize IVF if she wants a child but lacks a partner. This would limit IVF to cases where it is absolutely necessary.

The procedures ascribed to dealing with unused embryos from IVF create another challenge for Sasquatch hospital. Despite the fact that we would be allowing IVF, we need to be respectful of the official Catholic position that life begins at conception. In addition to not subsidizing abortion funds, we should strongly reject any research initiative where embryos are harmed no matter what future result the research could bring. However, we should financially support any study where the embryos are completely unharmed and the research has a clear positive outlook for future patient health. Since we would be performing IVF, we would have to allow unused embryos to expire. But we should encourage the donation of extra gametes to other couples to avoid this. Some Jewish and Islamic individuals have been accepting of gamete donation, so we have people that will benefit from this provision (Ivry, 2010: 209-211; Inhorn, 2006: 111). Although I propose to not act in accordance with the official Catholic belief that every child has the right to be raised by his or her parents, donation of gametes should reduce the wasting of unused embryos (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Alberto Bovone, 1987: 158).

In regards to spiritual counseling, it is necessary to make a change in policy. We cannot provide all these assisted reproductive technology services and continue to have a solely Catholic spiritual counseling service. This would send out a conflicted message to our community that we provide these resources, but our staff vehemently discourages patients from using them. I propose that we hire non-denominational counselors for our hospital. It has been brought to my attention that it will be costly and difficult to find counselors from various disciplines. In light of this argument, I think we should hire counselors that are skilled in a variety of religions. It will certainly be less difficult to find non-denominational spiritual counselors than spiritual counselors for each religion. Additionally, we can hire fewer counselors than we would have to if we needed to find counselors from several religions. But we should set standards to ensure that these counselors have experience in the variety of religions reflected in our populace. If we have a patient that desires support that cannot be given by our non-denominational counselors, we should hire a spiritual counselor from their religion on a case by case basis. This spiritual counselor would be hired to come to the hospital to speak to that one patient. The diversity of opinions reflected by my proposal should alleviate concerns by doctors that the Catholic spiritual counseling is directly conflicting with their work. While I don’t expect secular doctors to fully support any spiritual counseling, I believe it is important for patients to be able to reach out for religious support when they see fit. Doctors are not trained to deal with the ethical issues that arise from the technologies they utilize. They should be involved in the conversation, but there should also be other voices present. Spiritual counselors have the training to contribute to discussions about when life begins and what practices are morally right.

Some staff members may oppose many of the new initiatives I propose to incorporate into our care of patients. If the hospital is going to move in this new direction, we need the full cooperation of all our healthcare staff. Therefore, we should not only provide training programs to teach our current staff how to perform these new procedures, but we should also hold informational sessions to show the staff that regardless of individual beliefs, what we are doing is the best way to satisfy the most people. If many staff members continue to resist performing these procedures, we should train a group of current staff dedicated solely to performing these procedures and ensuring that patients feel as comfortable as possible during the process. If we end up not having enough nurses to meet the demand for ARTs, we will have to limit some of our practices even further. For example, we can make a regulation to offer IVF for only one child per family. Since IVF is not a medical emergency like the abortions we perform are, that should be the first thing we restrict. Abortions in medical emergencies should be the very last thing we limit because of its threat to the life of the mother.

As the CEO of Sasquatch Hospital, I have proposed a plan here that requires concessions from all members of the community but addresses everyone’s concerns. Rather than substituting financial stability for a coherent moral and medical vision, my proposal crafts a moral vision informed by several different perspectives. In doing this, I acknowledge the subjectivity of morality and the need to present an ideology that doesn’t enforce its own moral agenda on the population. Instead, it reflects the moral perspectives exhibited by the community. A situation as dynamic and complex as this one requires oversight and openness to change. It is necessary to assess the satisfaction of the variety of groups affected by our decisions. Therefore, we should reevaluate after a year to see how doctors feel about the change in protocol and if patients are using the services we provide. We should also see if patients are using the spiritual counseling resources in their decision making process. Though we always need to reevaluate, I am confident that the plan proposed here would allow the hospital to address the concerns of the diverse population of Sasquatch, Connecticut.

Analyst, Robin K. Cohen Principal. “STATE PAYMENT FOR ABORTIONS.” STATE PAYMENT FOR ABORTIONS. N.p., 17 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2017

Motherhood- Rachel Spector (Unit 9)

This week’s readings discuss theological and feminist approaches to surrogacy. Last week two of our readings provided firm arguments for or against abortion, but the surrogacy readings this week seem to focus more on the important questions that arise from a discussion of surrogacy. Though arguments are explored for and against surrogacy, the authors are more concerned with how this topic makes us rethink questions about women’s place in society, human nature, and family.

From the outset of her article, Barbara Katz Rothman establishes her opposition to surrogacy, but she mainly focuses on how the issue of surrogacy inherently provokes questions about our ideas of men and women in society. She illustrates the importance of patriarchy in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition; the value placed on father-child relationships still influences the political climate of America. She references linguistic discourse to support this claim: “It manifests itself in the language when Mrs. John Smith bears John Smith Jr- women bear the children of men (Rothman, 1991: 1600).” The child belongs to the father, and the mother is simply the means of creating that child- the dirt in which a man’s seed will grow. Rothman calls our society a modified patriarchy, a system categorized by rule of fathers that includes a primary emphasis on genetic material (Rothman, 1991: 1602). It is within this patriarchal and genetic context that people reflected on the emergence of reproductive technology. Women obtained the privilege of half-ownership of their children because their genetic contribution was likened to that of men. Rothman claims that women obtain patriarchal privileges when they display similar characteristics to men. With this logic, perhaps women had access to other women’s bodies to plant their seed and procure their children. But Rothman argues that this creates a dichotomy between those women that can afford this access to other women’s bodies, and those who were relegated to the dirt in which someone else’s seed will grow. The nature of this situation does not benefit all women equally. I can see how surrogacy might create problems if women are selling the use of their bodies to wealthier women. It reminds me of our discussion about selling organs on the black market. Body parts should not be sold as commodities because it creates problems like these. But I don’t think this economic problem is grounds to condemn surrogacy entirely. It is a beneficial resource for people who cannot have children any other way. Perhaps the only way to permit it ethically is to prohibit a monetary contract. This would likely limit surrogacy to relatives because pregnancy is an expensive, time consuming process, but at least it would prevent the problems associated with selling the use of one’s body.

  • How would you resolve this problem Rothman poses about surrogacy?
  • Do you agree that our society is a modified patriarchy that still relegates women’s opinion on matters regarding reproduction?
  • Do you agree that women only obtain privilege when they display similar characteristics that men have?

Not only does Rothman claim that surrogacy doesn’t benefit women equally, but she also says it raises questions about custody when the surrogate mother intends to keep her baby. Rothman uses the famous case of “Baby M” to show how male opinions dominate even when women are awarded the privilege of half-ownership of their children. In 1985, Mary Beth Whitehead agreed to be inseminated by William Stern and carry a baby, called “Baby M,” to term as a surrogate mother for Elizabeth Stern. After giving birth, Mary Beth Whitehead wanted to keep the baby. In the court case that ensued, William and Elizabeth Stern were permitted to keep the baby on the grounds that it was in the child’s best interests; but Mary Beth Whitehead maintained her parental rights (In Re Baby M). This is the case that started much of the legal debate over surrogacy and its implications. Rothman points out that William Stern obtains custody even when Mary Beth Whitehead’s legal motherhood is not questioned.

Rothman introduces her article with a discussion of society’s male-driven perspective on reproduction, but she concludes with a female perspective. She projects this notion of the potential for life even before conception occurs. This is something we have not really seen before in our discussion of when life begins. She claims that women view reproduction as beginning at ovulation and continuing through until the adulthood of the child; men view it as a discontinuous process that starts only when the sperm fertilizes the egg. She emphasizes that viewing it in a discontinuous way devalues the role of women in reproduction and relegates them to the dirt in which the seed is planted. Rothman sees parenthood as belonging to the mother who provided “the blood and nutrients of her body.” (Rothman, 1991: 1607). She claims that the kind of logic created by the patriarchal perspective takes children out of the arms of their mothers and places them in the control of society. Her article frames society as a dichotomy between men and women, and while I recognize that men certainly hold more power than women in society I don’t think you can easily define a male and female perspective as she does. In fact, I don’t see ovulation as the beginning of reproduction as she says women do. I think that would illustrate an extreme matrilineal view of reproduction. Women certainly invest more resources than men in reproduction, but I see the beginning of reproduction as a joint process separate from that of ovulation.

  • Do you agree with Rothman’s descriptions of male and female point of views towards reproduction? Does your view fit in with her description?
  • What is your definition of parenthood?

Gilbert Meilander frames the question of surrogacy from a very different perspective. While Rothman views religion’s position on surrogacy as stemming from unified patriarchal ideas, he emphasizes the great variability of opinions and modes of reasoning employed by Protestant theological ethicists to determine whether surrogacy is ethical. Rather than asking questions about men and women’s role in society, these ethicists ask what it means to be human. They interpret general themes from religious texts and apply them to ideas about being human. They each choose to emphasize different texts and weight some themes greater than others. The arguments they make originate from a discussion about the duality of human nature or with a discussion about Jesus.

Discussions about the duality of nature reflect on the finitude and freedom of human beings. Janet Dickey McDowell focuses on the finitude of humans when she claims that surrogacy infringes on the “bounds of appropriate behavior (Meilander, 1991: 1638).” Although it may seem like a compassionate action, she argues that surrogacy lacks a connection between the gestational mother and the family with whom her child will be sent. Paul Simmons emphasizes the idea of parenthood as a calling-  it should be done intentionally rather than accidentally. He sees in surrogacy an opportunity for couples to show this commitment and appreciate their child as a gift. By invoking this idea of choice, he advocates the religious idea of freedom in his view of surrogacy.

  • Is it problematic that in surrogacy there is “no sense that a child is not simply an entity created in order to be given to others” (Meilander, 1991: 1638)?

David H. Smith and Paul Ramsey focus on ideas of parenthood to illustrate their opposition to surrogacy. Smith sees two inherent features of humanity: 1. “The embodied nature of the self” 2. The bond of marriage as a deep and avowed commitment of the self (Meilander, 1991: 1639).” I would like to focus on his ideas about parenthood because they afford important comparisons with Rothman’s ideas of motherhood. Smith and Ramsey see parenthood as involving love-giving and life-giving. They argue that separating reproduction from sexual love may be within our bounds as free individuals, but this doesn’t make it advisable in terms of our finitude. Smith also notes the inequality afforded to spouses when they enter into an agreement with a surrogate mother. One spouse pays for his “authentic parenthood,” while the other isn’t afforded the same opportunity (Meilander, 1991: 1640). Smith argues that this goes against the notion of joint marriage. Smith’s logic goes against Rothman’s depiction of religious perspectives as focusing only on fatherhood. I agree that this unequal parenthood might pose some problems for a couple’s marriage, but I think the desire for a child may surpass the cost of these problems.

While some ethicists have centered their arguments on the duality of human nature, others have centered them on Jesus. In the Gospel of John, God created the world through his love. This love was expressed through Jesus. Ramsey strengthens his arguments against surrogacy through his discussion of this. He says we need to keep the love-giving and life-giving aspects of parenthood together because by doing so, we exhibit “a trace of the original mystery by which God created the world because of his love (Meilander, 1991: 1644).”

The articles we read this week illustrated the various methods by which we understand and form opinions about surrogacy. They highlight the idea that we approach surrogacy from a variety of different perspectives, and this leads to a wealth of different questions that we ask. Surrogacy brings up questions about what parenthood is and what it means to be human. It is easy to say “Yes, I think surrogacy should be an option,” or “No, surrogacy should be illegal,” but those responses hide the fundamentally different ideas about human nature and society that underlie apparent agreements of stance.

 

 

 

 

http://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/family-law/family-law-keyed-to-weisberg/adoption-and-alternatives-to-adoption/in-re-baby-m/2/

Midterm Assignment – Rachel Spector

As the CEO of Sasquatch Hospital, I have been asked to craft a new policy proposal regarding assisted reproductive technologies and prenatal testing. I accepted this job just as the hospital was shifting away from its official association with the Catholic religion a few years ago. Over the past few years, I have gotten to know the many different populations that make up Sasquatch, Connecticut. I have also been in communication with anthropologists who, over the past year, have been talking in depth with our patients about their feelings on these assisted reproductive technologies. Although these conversations are limited in their confinement to the hospital setting, interview format, and absence of long-term relationships, they offer the best perspective we have on the population we are trying to serve. With such a diverse array of individuals in our lively community, we must take every voice into consideration. Nonetheless, it is impossible to please everyone in our quest to set regulations on healthcare. This new policy proposal certainly does not set a unified front for all the voices in our community; But I have worked diligently to address everyone’s concerns in a way that fosters cooperation between different religions and cultures.

The inevitable solution to a situation in which different groups of people have different objectives is to provide most services but restrict their usage. We should provide In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments for our patients. Studies have shown that a small but significant portion of the Jewish and Lebanese Shi’ite communities use IVF as a way to overcome infertility. Though these studies were not conducted in the United States, the anthropologists at Sasquatch hospital have made similar conclusions among the Jewish American and American Lebanese Shi’ite communities. The statement made in Genesis that we should “be fruitful and multiply” has been interpreted by the Jewish community to be a commandment. The Jewish community places an emphasis on reproduction. Additionally, most religious leaders agree that life does not begin at conception. These reasons among others lead to the general acceptance of IVF among Jews (Kahn 2000:3). Shi’ite Islam promotes decision-making through the use of individual thought processes, also known as ijtihad, but practicing Shi’ites also hold the guidance of local religious leaders in high esteem. Most of these leaders have approved of IVF technology provided that certain precautions are taken. Shaikh Fadlallah, one of such religious leaders, and a Sunni religious leader both agreed that IVF is permissible when the gametes are provided by the couple that wishes to conceive through this process (Inhorn, 2006: 111). IVF is valued by important segments of our population, so we need to provide these services to them.

It is important to appeal to our largely Irish Catholic donor base as well because without them, we cannot run this hospital. We should take their perspective into account when making policy influencing pregnancy. We should not subsidize abortion services because doing so would contribute money from donors towards initiatives they do not approve of. Additionally, the Department of Social Services (DSS) in Connecticut funds all abortions that are medically necessary as per Doe v. Maher in 1986. Medical necessity is decided by the physician of a patient. It includes “health care provided to correct or diminish the adverse effects of a medical condition or mental illness; to assist an individual in attaining or maintaining an optimal level of health; to diagnose a condition; or to prevent a medical condition from occurring. (Cohen, 2010: 1). We should fully cooperate with the DSS of Connecticut to allow under-insured patients to receive abortions under conditions where they are medically required.  To reduce instances of abortion and unnecessary killing of what many Catholics deem as life, we should only allow it to be performed in situations when the mother’s or fetus’ life is at risk during the pregnancy (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Alberto Bovone, 1987: 149). In addition to abortions, prenatal testing and amniocentesis are necessary provisions to allow people to exercise precautions in their pregnancy. In particular, members of the Jewish community utilize these resources (Ivry, 2010: 11). Individuals using this service at our hospital would not be able to terminate a pregnancy based on any genetic conditions they discover, however, because under my policy proposal the hospital wouldn’t allow voluntary abortions. Instead, they could use this information to prepare for the consequences of the genetic disease once the child is born. These services would also allow healthcare providers to ensure the health of the fetus and mother during the progression of the pregnancy. The restrictions placed on abortions, prenatal testing, and amniocentesis would appeal to our Irish Catholic donor base, so our hospital can continue to run under their generous financial contributions.

The procedures ascribed to dealing with unused embryos from IVF create another challenge for Sasquatch hospital. Despite the fact that we would be allowing IVF, we need to be respectful of the official Catholic position that life begins at conception. In addition to not subsidizing abortion funds, we should strongly reject any research initiative where embryos are harmed no matter what future result the research could bring. However, we should financially support any study where the embryos are completely unharmed and the research has a clear positive outlook for future patient health. We should also encourage the donation of gametes to couples. Some Jewish and Islamic individuals have been accepting of this process, so we have people that will benefit from this provision (Ivry, 2010: 209-211; Inhorn, 2006: 111). Although I propose to not act in accordance with the official Catholic belief that every child has the right to be raised by his or her parents, donation of gametes should reduce the wasting of unused embryos (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Alberto Bovone, 1987: 158).

In regards to spiritual counseling, it is necessary to make a change in policy. We cannot provide all these assisted reproductive technology services and continue to have a solely Catholic spiritual counseling service. This would send out a conflicted message to our community that we provide these resources, but our staff vehemently discourages patients from using them. Additionally, we need a more diverse group of counselors to allow patients to make informed decisions. Patients should be allowed spiritual and cultural support of their choosing before they make decisions about whether they should use assisted reproductive technology or not. I propose that we incorporate counselors from different disciplines. This should include support that ranges from African American Catholic priests to Japanese cultural advisors. The diversity of opinions should alleviate concerns by doctors that the Catholic spiritual counseling is directly conflicting with their work. While I don’t expect secular doctors to fully support any spiritual counseling, I believe it is important for patients to be able to reach out for religious support when they see fit.

Some staff members may oppose many of the new initiatives I propose to incorporate into our care of patients. If the hospital is going to move in this new direction, we need the full cooperation of all our healthcare staff. Therefore, we should not only provide training programs to teach our current staff how to perform these new procedures, but we should also hold educational sessions to remind the staff that what we are doing is ethical and is best for the community as a whole. If many staff members continue to resist performing these procedures, we should train a group of current staff dedicated solely to performing these procedures and ensuring that patients feel as comfortable as possible during the process.

As the CEO of Sasquatch Hospital, I have proposed a plan here that requires concessions from all members of the community but addresses everyone’s concerns. A situation as dynamic and complex as this one requires oversight and openness to change. It is necessary to assess the satisfaction of the variety of groups affected by our decisions. Therefore, we should reevaluate after a year to see how doctors feel about the change in protocol and if patients are using the services we provide. We should also see if patients are using the spiritual counseling resources in their decision making process. Though we always need to reevaluate, I am confident that the plan proposed here would allow the hospital to address the concerns of the diverse population of Sasquatch, Connecticut.

 

Analyst, Robin K. Cohen Principal. “STATE PAYMENT FOR ABORTIONS.” STATE PAYMENT FOR ABORTIONS. N.p., 17 Mar. 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2017

Unit 4 Kinship and Religious Law (Rachel Spector)

The advent of technologies that assist reproduction has prompted discussion among communities over our moral obligations and the ethical implications of such innovations. This week’s readings all reflect on the Jewish religion’s relative openness to reproductive technologies. Many anthropologists and researchers of other disciplines try to understand what makes Israel so accepting of these advances. They strive to reveal on what basis legal decisions are made and how they are grounded in the social climate and in interpretations of religious text.

Ethnography, Exegesis, and Jewish Ethical Reflection: The New Reproductive Technologies In Israel” explores the strategies by which scholars should interpret discussion on bioethics in Israel. Don Seeman cautions against minimizing this discourse to any one factor that contributed to general acceptance of reproductive technology. He asserts that it cannot be attributed as a pronatal response to the Holocaust, nor can it be simplified to conflict between religious and secular ideas. He references Kathrin Braun (2005) to draw a contrast between “managerial discourse” and “republican” discourse. “Managerial discourse” involves analysis by medical and ethical experts, including rabbinic authorities, while “republican” discourse involves the ideas of citizens of the community. Both strategies must be employed to fully understand and delve into the consequences of assisted reproductive technology. Textual analysis and ethnography can enlighten discussion on this topic and inform legal decisions.

One way Seeman examines Jewish ideas on assisted reproductive technologies is through an analysis of their interpretation of biblical texts. He emphasizes that while the technology is new, the problems it poses have been addressed long ago. I was skeptical of this viewpoint at first because the technology seems like nothing the world has encountered before. As Seeman cautions against, I believed “that this technology stands ready to unhinge traditional families and kinship structures.” But his examples provide important insights concerning issues that continue to prompt debate today. An analysis of interpretations of these texts also highlights where differences between Jewish and other religious ideas on reproduction originate. It is important to take these resources into consideration in modern discourse because they have real implications for society. Seeman discusses the tensions that arose due to surrogacy when Sarah recruits her servant, Hagar, to bear her husband’s sons. She says, “Behold now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing; go in, I pray three, unto my handmaid; it may be that I shall be built up through her” (cf. Gen. 30). Then, Sarah has son of her own and competition ensures between them. Surrogacy is evidently not a new innovation and the problems it posed then continue to hold relevance today. Many protestant writers interpreted this story as logical evidence for the conclusion that surrogacy is problematic, while Jews and Muslims focused on the implications of surrogacy for inheritance rather than rejecting it entirely. These interpretations contribute to different perspectives on assisted reproductive technology. They add to our discussion last week in class concerning the Catholic Church’s focus on the genesis when formulating opinions on the technology and the Jewish focus on the Leviticus. Relying on the same text does not result in united ideas on reproductive technology.

  • Do you think the debates taking place today are novel or similar to issues encountered in the past?
  • Why are these texts interpreted differently by members of different religious traditions? How are interpretations rooted in culture and how do these cultural traditions inform policy?

One important argument Seeman makes is that Catholicism emphasizes “natural law” in their ideas about assisted reproductive technology, whereas Judaism focuses on kinship relations. This can be found in differing interpretations of biblical text, but it can also be found in the ideas of rabbinic authorities and Jewish culture. “Marriage, Sex, and Family in Judaism” discusses how to place a cloned child within the kinship relations inherent to Jewish society. The article calls into question our definitions of different social roles in society. Michael J. Broyde investigates if Jewish religion would view the act as permissible (mutar), prohibited (asur) or a good deed (mitzvah). He claims that the response to this question varies based on context. Men are obligated by religious doctrine to father at least one daughter and one son, while women are informally pressured to have children. Cloning is a mitzvah if the donor is a man, whereas it is just permissible for a female donor. In his discussion on kinship relations, Broyde proposes three possible theories of a relationship between the cloner and the clonee:

  1. Mother and child or father and child
  2. Siblings
  3. No relationship between the cloner and clonee

Most religious authorities see the woman who carried a baby to term in her womb as the mother regardless of the circumstances. This suggests that the cloner would have no relationship with the clonee if it was born from a different woman. But what’s interesting about Judaism is the wealth of different opinions on many issues. There is no one centralized authority who claims to speak for the entire Jewish religion. For example, Rabbi J. David Bleich claims that both women are the mothers. The idea of two mothers has important consequences for the child’s life. For example, if the child is asked who his/her mother is, what will he/she say? With regard to siblings, Broyde argues that the cloner and the clonee could not be seen that way because Jewish law defines siblings as sharing a father and/or a mother. Despite their identical genetic identity (or similar if the gene donor is not the same as the ovum donor), their relationship is not the same of identical twins because they do not share a common parent. This article reveals that genetic relationships may not coincide with social relationships and this has important consequences for how the child is placed in the vast web of social ties in society. It is an interesting debate that if the donor is a man, he may be seen as the father because there are no other candidates for the role. But if the donor is a woman, she has to contend with another woman for the role of mother.

  • What is your definition of a mother? Father? Siblings?
  • What do you think the relation should be between the cloner and clonee and why?

Reproducing: A Cultural Account Of Assisted Conception In Israel provides an ethnography depicting the experiences of unmarried women as they use artificial insemination to have children. It is a much needed emphasis on how all these debates have real consequences for the individuals in society who utilize these resources. Susan Martha Kahn depicted artificial insemination as 8 stages by which women go for appointments, speak with social workers and psychologists, await the medical professional’s decision on sperm, and deal with failures of the insemination among other concerns. Seeman proclaims the necessity of ethnography as a method for discussing ethics on assisted reproductive technology. As I mentioned about the child with two mothers, circumstances of origin can affect the child’s life. For example, Kahn mentions going for a walk with a woman and her daughter; her daughter encountered two elderly women who asked where her father was (46, Kahn). She responded with confusion because she did not know she was supposed to have a father. As this child grows up, she will have to come to terms with her origins and learn how to respond to other’s inquiries. The ethnography also reveals a growing number of individuals who utilize artificial insemination as a means of reproduction without a man. It introduces a new origin of children outside of marriage and challenges individuals to make sense of what marriage is if it is not the only means of reproduction. These kinds of revelations could not be revealed by textual analysis or reference to rabbinic authorities. Thus, it is important to carry out ethnographic studies to illuminate different aspects of the day to day life of these individuals. These readings have revealed the various aspects of Jewish culture, law, biblical texts, and other resources have informed opinion on assisted reproductive technology. It is a complex issue that demands a careful analysis of a wide variety of sources.