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

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Premarital Genetic Testing

In order to avoid the potentially devastating impact of genetic testing on a couple who are already engaged or married, it is best to perform carrier testing prior to engagement. Within the Jewish community, a system of premarital genetic testing for a number of conditions has been established. This project is called Dor Yesharim, The Committee for Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases ( worldwide, or in Israel). Dor Yeshorim currently offers several different panels of tests from which one can choose.

Individuals are tested before beginning the search for a marriage partner, but are not told the results of the test. A couple considering marriage notifies Dor Yesharim and is informed whether or not there is a problem. The couple is not told what disease they carry, just that the match is likely to lead to a child affected by one of these conditions.

As this system takes the halachic concerns into consideration, it has the approval of many leading halachic authorities. It is also subsidized. However, Dor Yesharim will only test people prior to an official engagement, and does not give specific test results. Therefore, some couples will choose to have the testing done privately.

If a couple has not been tested prior to marriage, they should consult with their rabbi about doing tests at a later point. There are grounds to permit testing at any stage if it could lead to an intervention that would be beneficial to the health of the fetus.

Organizations that provide genetic screening and counseling for Jewish genetic diseases in the United States include:

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All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.