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

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Prenatal tests

24 May, 2006

Question:

I am asking this out of curiosity and, I admit, some confusion.

My daughter is B'H pregnant. As she has had several miscarriages, we are approaching this pregnancy warily.

She has been asked by her OB to run some scans (blood work, I think) to test for any anomalies. Presumably, this knowledge would help determine whether a C-section is in order.

Is this common? How do we proceed? Do we need specific rabbinic guidance, as this is a case by case issue?

Thank you for your efforts and a truly great service.


Answer:

Prenatal tests are quite common. Tests intended to preserve the health of the mother or baby are permitted by halacha. This would include determining if it is better for the health of either to deliver by c section.

The purpose of some of the tests is to determine if there is a fetal defect, in which case the test could offer the parents the opportunity to prepare for a child with a defect.  However, doctors in such cases might recommend abortion.  Performing an abortion is a very serious matter in halacha that needs to be decided on a case by case basis and is generally permitted only in very extenuating circumstances.

Therefore, it is important that your daughter ask about any test that is being planned. She should ask about the purpose of the test and what the doctors do with the information they receive. With this information in advance, she can decide whether she wants the test performed. If she is not sure, she can ask for rabbinic guidance or get back to us.


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