2007 | Partners in Creation: Fertility, Modern Medicine, and Jewish Law

On Sunday, October 14, 2007, Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) will be hosting its second annual conference, entitled Partners in Creation: Fertility, Modern Medicine and Jewish Law. Sponsored by the Fuld Family, the conference will provide participants with a broad foundation for the medical background needed to understand fertility problems, as well as the technologically advanced medical practices in use today that help families struggling with infertility. Topics covered include in-vitro fertilization, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, sperm injection, and more. Participants will also be introduced to an overview of the fundamental ethical dilemmas surrounding fertility, as well as how the system of Halacha (Jewish law) is concerned with these complex issues. In addition to gaining broad knowledge in medical, ethical, and Halachik issues of fertility, participants will be able to choose from a series of specialized tracks, each geared towards in-depth analysis of the most pressing issues in the field. Examples of various tracks to be offered include: surrogate motherhood, artificial insemination, Halachik infertility, paternal identity, and the emotional and psychological impact of infertility on families. The individual sessions will be guided by leading rabbis and physicians, all of whom are leading experts with ample experience in the fields of reproductive medicine and Halacha. The conference will be a wonderful opportunity to explore these complex and pressing issues in some depth, and to interact with leading rabbis and physicians in this area of medical ethics. Pre-registration is required and will be open to all those who have an interest in learning more about the ethics of infertility. Students, teachers, rabbis, physicians, and laymen are welcome.

Session Descriptions

Plenary I: Intro Session Infertility: A long-standing challenge

Rabbi Edward Reichman M.D. , Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Moderators: Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Plenary II: Fertility Workup

Rabbi Kenneth Brander , Richard Grazi M.D.

Moderators: Dr. Richard Grazi, Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Plenary III: Final Session and Closing Remarks: New Frontiers in Fertility Technology

Rabbi Menachem Burshtein , Rabbi Hershel Schachter

Moderators: Dr. Susan Lobel

Breakout Sessions

Breakout 1: The Male Side of The Story: Sperm Retrieval and Male Infertility

Scott Chudnoff M.D. , Rabbi Yaakov Neuberger

This break out session, which will be delivered by Rav Yaakov Neuberger and Dr. Scott Chudnoff, will focus on fertility issues from a man’s perspective specifically with regards to tests performed on sperm and the most halachically appropriate way to retrieve sperm samples without running into problems of hashchatat zerah.

Breakout 2: A Matter of Timing: Halachic Infertility

Deena Zimmerman M.D., MPH, IBCLC

This break out session, to be delivered by Dr. Deena Zimmerman, will focus on issues of taharat hamishpacha, specifically with regards to woman’s ovulation cycles and yemey niddah.

Breakout 3: Multi Fetal Reduction

Rabbi Zalman Levine M.D.

This break out session, to be delivered by Rabbi Dr. Zalman Levine, will focus on selectively aborting one or more fetuses from a high risk multi-fetal pregnancy, in order to preserve the life of the fetuses that have the most likely chance of survival.

Breakout 4: Infertility, the Emotional Roller Coaster (psychological effects of infertility)

David Pelcovitz Ph.D.

This break out session, to be delivered by Dr. David Pelcovitz, will focus on the psychological effects that infertility may cause for a couple. This session will also include testimony from a couple who suffered from infertility but were ultimately able to have children as a result of modern technology.

Breakout 5: Playing G-d: PGD and Halacha

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

This break out session, to be delivered by Rabbi Kenneth Brander, will focus on Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis technology. This technology, which involves creating several test-tube babies and then implanting those which are most suitable for implantation into the womb, can help couples remove the possibility of having children with severe genetic diseases such as tay sachs. However, it can also be used to decide which eye and hair color a baby will have. Rabbi Brander will discuss the impacts this has to halacha and the use of this technology.

Breakout 6: Cancer Treatment and Infertility

Dan Goldschlag M.D.

This break out session, to be delivered by Dr. Dan Goldschlag, will focus on infertility caused by chemotherapy used to treat cancer, especially with regards to the halachot of those who have not yet had children and will need this invasive treatment.

Breakout 7: Are You My Mother? Surrogate Motherhood in Jewish Law

Harry Lieman M.D. , Rabbi Mordechai Willig

This break out session, to be delivered by Dr Harry Lieman and Rav Mordechai Willig, will focus on the chiyuv of being a surrogate mother as well for the use of surrogate mothers and its effect on identifying maternity.

Breakout 8: A Rabbi’s Guide to Infertility(For Rabbis Only)

Rabbi Gideon Weitzman

This special session for rabbi, to be delivered by Rav Gideon Weitzman, will focus on the rabbi’s role in helping couples who are suffering from infertility, as well as the resources available for him. There will also be a special question and answer session with Rav Weitzman, Rav Hershel Schachter and Rav Menachem Burshtein following the presentation.

Breakout 9: Gestational Thrombophilia

Stanley Waintraub M.D.

This break out session, to be delivered by Dr. Stanley Waintraub, will focus on the unfortunate problem of miscarriage faced by infertile couples who have finally conceived and the different solutions that are available to them.