Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Presence of male assistant MD

23 January, 2007

Question:

Tzniut question:

I recently underwent fertility treatments and selected a female doctor due to my personal preferences.

During one of the procedures, I was going to be completely exposed from the waist down while a male assistant of the doctor was going to stand there assisting her in full view. I objected to not being covered at all and the participation of the male assistant, both of which made me feel extremely uncomfortable.

Aside from my personal preferences, is there any halachic basis for not having oneself exposed in such a way to a man, even though he is a medical professional?

Thank you for your assistance, and tizku lemitzot.


Answer:

Just as it is your right to have another person present in the room during an examination, it is your right to object having another person in the room if there is no reason for him to be there.  The doctor should certainly respect your wish regardless of the reason.

From a halachic standpoint, clearly a woman should not be exposed when there is no medical purpose.  This is the reason it is preferable to go to a female doctor when possible, if the treatment received would be of equal quality.  However, strictly speaking, there is no prohibition on the woman's part, aside from a potential violation of Iifnei iver lo titen michshol (you shall not put a stumbling block in front of the blind). In this case, the concern is that the male observer may experience inappropriate thoughts. However, this concern only applies if the man is Jewish, and only where there is nothing to be gained by his presence.  When the gain is medical (he is assisting the doctor medically), scientific (he is doing research), or professional (he is studying to become a doctor), there would be no halachic prohibition involved.

We stress again, with no relation to halachah, that you have the right to demand privacy in this situation.


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