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

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Tubal ligation

9 October, 2003

Question:

You wrote that tubal ligation is generally not an accepted form of birth control. Can you explain why? As I understand it, one of the issues has to do with impeding the body's normal functioning. But why is tubal ligation substantively different from the pill, which is a hormonal impediment to normal functioning (rather than a physical impediment in this case)?

thank you.


Answer:

The difference is that tubal ligation is a permanent form of sterilization. There is a separate commandment, based on Leviticus 22:24, forbidding sterilization of animals as well as people. It is considered a violation of a Torah commandment to sterilize a man and violation of a rabbinic decree to sterilize a woman.  Thus, a vasectomy is absolutely forbidden but, in very serious health situations, a tubal ligation would sometimes be permitted for women. The pill, on the other hand, is temporary and does not interfere with the normal progress of sperm into the female genital tract. It is thus generally the halachically preferred method of birth control when contraception itself is permitted.


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