Fetal tests in Israel?



The Israeli government-funded universal health services offer the highest number of prenatal tests in the world. The average pregnant woman will have 3 ultrasounds, two screenings, and possibly an amniosentesis before going into labor.

Several factors driving this trend are:

  1. Pressure on the mom to have "the perfect baby"
  2. Medical pressure to abort malformed children
  3. Fear of genetic mutations that are ethnically based (Tay-Sachs rates are particularly high among Ashkenazi Jewish women)*

*see this article for more details

Our IVF treatment percentages are also among the highest in the world. The Israeli parliament approved a bill that allows any woman over 35 to freeze her eggs for future treatments. Any couple, married or unmarried can pursue IVF, and a single woman is even allowed to implant an egg fertilized with a married man's sperm without his wife knowledge.  Is there a pattern here?

Are we testing the children in the womb to screen out the "imperfect" or "inconvenient" ones and then producing offspring on demand through developments in science?

Recently, an article published in the newspaper highlighted the practice of fertility doctors who rush infertile couples to seek IVF treatment immediately, instead of waiting the usual 2 years for conception to naturally take place. He said "Why should they have to wait for months while we do intensive checks of their reproductive organs when we have technology that gets us past all that..." 16% of Israeli couples in Israel are considered infertile (unable to get pregnant within a year). Statistics indicate that as many as 93 percent of sexually active couples in Israel will get pregnant naturally within the next two years. But the doctors insist that they shouldn't have to wait. "Are you crazy? who would accept such a diagnosis these days?... we are doctors, suppliers of technology. If I turn them down, they will go to the next doctor down the street to get what they want..." (translated from the article "Have 6, Have 7, Have 8 Children" by Vered Levi Brazilai, January 5, 2005 in Ha'aretz newspaper)

A recent documentary called "Google Baby" highlighted an Israeli antrepeneour who provides surrogacy services to infertile individuals and couples (including gay couples). Using egg donations from the US, sperm donations from the individual or a sperm bank in Israel, and surrogate mothers living in squalid conditions in India, he promises to deliver a "custom baby" to those who can afford to "buy" one.

As is the often the case in In-Vitro Fertilization, more than one fertilized egg is inserted and implants in the lining of the womb - producing viable twins. In this situation the mothers are offered the option of "diluting the fetuses" (Dilul Ubarim in Hebrew) - or in other words, aborting all but one of the fetuses. In such cases the mother signs a document stating she understands the dangers to herself, and also the danger to the "healthy" or "wanted" fetus in the womb who might be accidentally aborted with the "unwanted" ones.

Fetal sex selection abortions are also done in some situations in Israel.

There seems to be no end to the doctor's invasion of the womb here. Indeed, one might say that having a baby has become a shopping experience.

Even before implantation, man is tampering with what was once a product of intimacy and chance. The Israeli parliament allows stem cell research in Israel and consequently, Israeli researchers feature prominently in stem-cell research articles in medical publications.


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