Halachic obligation to try IVF?
21 June, 2017
Hello. Thank you for your wonderful website.
I have a question regarding my halachic obligation to undergo in vitro fertilization treatment.
Both my husband and I have been married previously and B’H we both have children from our previous marriages. All of my husband’s children are of the same gender. We have been married for several years, and I have not been able to become pregnant yet. I am in my early 40s.
We were told that because of my age, the only fertility treatment that will be effective will be IVF. But even IVF has extremely limited success rate in my age group. Because of this statistics of low success rate of IVF in women who are 40+, the fact that B’H we both have children, and the fact that IVF is emotionally, physically, and economically draining, we have made a decision to not pursue it. It was a very difficult decision, but we believe it’s the right one for our family.
My question is, however, if I have halachic obligation to attempt IVF since my husband only has children of the same gender. If I do have such an obligation, would one cycle be sufficient to fulfill it?
We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question.
The halachic obligation to procreate applies to making efforts to conceive naturally. Therefore, couples are not obligated to pursue fertility treatments such as IVF, even when the husband does not have one child of each gender. Sometimes a couple might be encouraged to pursue treatment, even when not obligated to do so. But the physical, financial, and emotional complications of pursuing IVF to which you refer are halachically-recognized factors in making a decision.
Therefore, your decision is considered halachically valid.
If you would like to discuss this further, you are welcome to schedule a free consultation with a Yoetzet Halacha Fertility Counselor.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
This response was updated on 3 May, 2021.
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