IVF for a boy after five girls?
16 November, 2015
We have 5 girls and my husband and I want a boy in order to fulfill the mitsvah of pru urbu. I refuse to try again because I emotionally can not handle having another girl, with my fifth girl I cried the whole pregnancy and I was afraid to give birth because I was so upset, so I don’t want to go through that again, I just can’t. Besides, we can’t afford to have so many more kids with the costs of yeshivah. My husband is even worried about how he will be able to support a sixth child. I want to do IVF to determine the sex of the baby, but my husband and I are afraid that it might not be halachicly permissible. We went to a consultation with a jewish doctor, and he told us that he had a religious couple that had six girls and he asked hacham Ovadia Yosef ztz”l for them when he went to Israel , and that he told him that it’s not asur. Please help us decide.
We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question.
There is no halachic obligation to undergo IVF (with or without Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis for gender selection) in order to fulfill the mitzvah of pru u’rvu. If you feel that you are physically, emotionally, and financially unprepared for another child, you are not obligated to keep trying in order to have a son, which in normal circumstances is beyond your control.
IVF is expensive, and it is physically and emotionally demanding. It is also not always successful. Furthermore, when used with PGD for gender selection, it raises a number of ethical questions.
To work through these issues further, we suggest that you first read through some background information on PGD for gender selection and then arrange a free consultation with a Yoetzet Halacha Fertility Counselor, details here.
J. B. Wolowelsky and R. V. Grazi, “Sex selection and halachic ethics:a contemporary discussion” Tradition 2007; 40:1, pp.45-52. The article is followed by a discussion on that topic from K. Brander, B. Freundel, M. Friedman, J. Goldberg, B. Greenberger, F. Kaplan, E. Reichman, and D. R. Zimmerman, pp. 53-78.
Additional reading on this topic can be found in J. A. Klug, A boy or a girl? The ethics of preconception gender selection, Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society 2004; 48:5-27.
This response was updated on 3 May, 2021.
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