Kin, Gene, Community

Kin, Gene, Community: Reproductive Technologies among Jewish Israelis

Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli
Yoram S. Carmeli
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Kin, Gene, Community
    Book Description:

    Israel is the only country in the world that offers free fertility treatments to nearly any woman who requires medical assistance. It also has the world's highest per capita usage of in-vitro fertilization. Examining state policies and the application of reproductive technologies among Jewish Israelis, this volume explores the role of tradition and politics in the construction of families within local Jewish populations. The contributors-anthropologists, bioethicists, jurists, physicians and biologists-highlight the complexities surrounding these treatments and show how biological relatedness is being construed as a technology of power; how genetics is woven into the production of identities; how reproductive technologies enhance the policing of boundaries. Donor insemination, IVF and surrogacy, as well as abortion, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and human embryonic stem cell research, are explored within local and global contexts to convey an informed perspective on the wider Jewish Israeli environment.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-836-2
    Subjects: Anthropology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Reproductive Technologies among Jewish Israelis: Setting the Ground
    (pp. 1-48)
    Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli and Yoram S. Carmeli

    The tremendous expansion of medical technologies involved in various aspects of human reproduction has been described and analyzed extensively over more than two decades now. Generally speaking, technologies in this domain can be divided into three subcategories. The first includes procreative, namely conception-enabling technologies, currently centered around in vitro fertilization (IVF) and its varied derivatives: intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to overcome male infertility; testicular biopsy and aspiration; electroejaculation for spinal-cord-injured males; ooplasmic transfer from a younger woman’s to an older woman’s ova to improve ova quality; third-party donation (and sale) of sperm, ova, and embryos; removal and freezing of human...

  5. Part I Kin:: Reproductive Technologies and The Quest For Biogenetic Parenthood

    • Chapter 1 The Contribution of Israeli Researchers to Reproductive Medicine: Fertility Experts’ Perspectives
      (pp. 51-60)
      Shlomo Mashiach, Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, Roy Mashiach and Martha Dirnfeld

      This chapter explores historical landmarks and more recent Israeli contributions to the science of human reproduction and outlines their socio-political contexts. It is based on written descriptions and interviews with six senior Israeli gynecologists and researchers and represents their perspectives on the subject at this point in the history of the field. Being aware of the personal component that imbues such perspectives we tried to approach experts form a range of geographical locations, professional generations, and subfields of specialty.

      All the experts who were interviewed for this chapter have unanimously traced the high local standard in fertility research to Professor...

    • Chapter 2 The Regulation of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis for Sibling Donors in Israel, Germany, and England: A Comparative Look at Balancing Risks and Benefits
      (pp. 61-83)
      Yael Hashiloni-Dolev and Shiri Shkedi

      PGD is an early form of prenatal diagnosis. Couples opting for PGD undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF). The pre-embryos are biopsied and genetically screened in vitro. Only those which have the desired genetic profile are transferred to the uterus, using standard IVF procedures (Sermon 2002). During the years since its introduction in the 1990s, PGD has been used predominantly to avoid the birth of children affected by identified incurable genetic diseases, such as monogenic disorders¹ (i.e.: cystic fibrosis, hemophilia), or chromosomal aberrations² (Geraedts et al. 1999; Harper et al. 2006). Thus, the technique is mainly used (where allowed) by couples...

    • Chapter 3 The Man in the Sperm: Kinship and Fatherhood in Light of Male Infertility in Israel
      (pp. 84-106)
      Helene Goldberg

      This article explores kinship and fatherhood in light of male infertility and artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs) in the Jewish-Israeli context. I became interested in the male reproductive experience in Israel through a backdoor interest in Jewish identity, and then came across Susan Kahn’s groundbreaking study (2000) of single, secular Jewish women’s reproduction in Israel with the use of sperm donation. It seemed that because of Israeli technological advances in reproductive technologies, the state’s support of fertility treatment, national efforts to increase the Jewish population, and the concept that Jewish identity is passed through the mother, men could be removed from...

    • Chapter 4 The Last Outpost of the Nuclear Family: A Cultural Critique of Israeli Surrogacy Policy
      (pp. 107-126)
      Elly Teman

      Surrogate motherhood,¹ a practice in which a woman agrees to carry a child to term for a couple who will then keep the child as their own, has emerged from the academic literature as an extreme case study for feminist, ethical, legal, and social concerns. With respect to matters of ethics, scholars have asked if there is not something intrinsically immoral about surrogacy (Brennan and Noggle 1997), and some have denounced the practice as depersonalizing or even dehumanizing of women’s reproductive labor and mutating it into a form of alienation (van Niekerk and van Zyl 1995). In the radical feminist...

    • Chapter 5 Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Technologies: A Comparative Reading of Israeli Policies
      (pp. 127-150)
      Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli and Yoram S. Carmeli

      Infertility affects some 8 to 14 percent of the fertility aged population worldwide (Bentley and Mascie-Taylor 2000). Many of the affected individuals seek medical assistance in their attempts to found families. Others, often after having exhausted and “failed” this option, opt for child adoption. Though popularly perceived of as the heart of one’s private life, both these routes to family founding—fertility treatments and adoption—are tightly regulated by state policies.

      State policies construct and mold the behavior of individuals and formal bodies, licensing some practices as acceptable, labeling others as not. But they go deeper than that. Initially imposed...

  6. Part II Gene:: Reproductive Technologies and The Quest For The Perfect Child

    • Chapter 6 Genetic Testing and Screening in Religious Groups: Perspectives of Jewish Haredi Communities
      (pp. 153-173)
      Barbara Prainsack and Gil Sigal

      The uptake of genetic testing varies greatly between occidental nations. Some countries, such as Germany (e.g., see German National Ethics Council 2003) are somewhat reluctant to engage with the full array of genetic possibilities, while other societies are more inclined to exploit genetic knowledge (see also Wertz 1994–1995; The Nuffield Council on Bioethics 2006; Hashiloni-Dolev 2007).

      In Israel, genetic testing and screening² is used in various contexts. Similarly to most countries, its use extends to prenatal and neonatal diagnosis, genetic counseling services, HLA for tissue typing, paternity testing, and use in criminal forensics (identification of victims, their remains, or...

    • Chapter 7 Ultrasonic Challenges to Pro-Natalism
      (pp. 174-201)
      Tsipy Ivry

      Israel, so many scholars claim, is a pro-natal state. But what does that mean in terms of the public imagery of pregnancy? Thatfailingto conceive is pictured as an unbearable tragedy might come as no surprise, but what about a normal healthy pregnancy? One could hypothesize that since such a pregnancy is the height of the pro-natal fantasy, then it should be depicted in the most positive of terms. How then, can one interpret the following scene in which terror is so tightly intertwined into the very fabric of the social imagery of gestation?

      The scene I am referring...

    • Chapter 8 Abortion Committees as Agents of Eugenics: Medical and Public Views on Selective Abortion Following Mild or Likely Fetal Pathology
      (pp. 202-225)
      Nitzan Rimon-Zarfaty and Aviad Raz

      The Israeli penal law concerning the interruption of pregnancy (1977) authorizes hospital committees to assess parents’ requests for selective abortion. Applications for abortion due to “genetic defects” counted for 15 to 20 percent of all applications submitted to hospital “abortion committees” from 1990 to 2007 (Israeli ministry of health 2008). However, the law does not provide any definition of these “genetic defects” in terms of severity and/or likelihood of expression. Rather, the legal phrasing—kept unchanged since 1977—allows an abortion on the basis of any medical diagnosis for which the fetus “may suffer from physical or mental defect.” These...

    • Chapter 9 Cultural Values in Action: The Israeli Approach to Human Cloning
      (pp. 226-252)
      Gali Ben-Or and Vardit Ravitsky

      This chapter¹ presents the regulation of human cloning² in Israel. It describes some prevalent cultural values that are influential in policy making and legislation in this area. It then explores the Israeli legislative process leading to the “Prohibition of Genetic Intervention (Human Cloning and Genetic Manipulation of Reproductive Cells) Law 1999”³ and its extension in 2004.⁴ This process reflects unique Israeli approaches grounded in cultural values relating to the moral status of the human embryo, the importance of research leading to medical breakthroughs and the significance of scientific progress as a key to success and survival.

      Israel defines itself as...

  7. Part III Community:: A Self-Portrait With Technology

    • Chapter 10 ART, Community, and Beyond: Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Israel
      (pp. 255-270)
      Nissim Benvenisty, Karl Skorecki and Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli

      The study of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is inherently linked to IVF. It is the extracorporeal existence of fertilized eggs in the early stages of cell division that has enabled the recent development of the study of these special cells. Comprising the primary moments in human development, embryonic stem cells offer a singular vantage point to foundational life processes.

      Stem cells are distinguished by unique properties. They can divide and renew themselves for long periods. Embryonic stem cells are unspecialized but can become any type of cell (e.g., the beating cells of the heart muscle or the insulin-producing cells...

    • Chapter 11 Medicine and the State: The Medicalization of Reproduction in Israel
      (pp. 271-295)
      Yali Hashash

      Feminist and sociology researchers in Israel over the last two decades have consistently claimed that Israeli reproductive policy has always been, and remains, an expression of the State’s nation-building efforts. Within this framework, two main contentions are made: (a) Israel’s reproductive policy primarily aims at winning a “demographic race” against the Palestinian Arabs and is, therefore, pronatalist¹; and (b) Israel, although pronatalist, is equally concerned with the reproduction of the “New Jew,” who exhibits physical and/or cultural attributes that fit Westernized/modernistic qualitative demands.²

      These two contentions take for granted that as a profession, medicine has assumed the role of an...

    • Chapter 12 The Mirth of the Clinic: Fieldnotes from an Israeli Fertility Center
      (pp. 296-317)
      Susan Martha Kahn

      Assisted conception is so unprecedented and the consequences for beliefs about reproduction so uncertain that we anthropologists have had our plates full as we try to construct theoretical frameworks with adequate explanatory power. Much of the recent anthropological work in the Israeli context follows these trends, often using Foucauldian frameworks to illuminate the complex social processes inherent in the social uses of new reproductive technologies. I draw particular attention to the works in this volume. To date, however, little has been written about the routinization of conception enabled by these technologies and the everyday experience of the people who work...

    • Chapter 13 Between Reproductive Citizenship and Consumerism: Attitudes towards Assisted Reproductive Technologies among Jewish and Arab Israeli Women
      (pp. 318-339)
      Larissa Remennick

      Some recent sociological analyses of reproduction approached the relations between women as mothers and various social institutions (legal and medical systems, labor market, social welfare, mass media, etc.) within the continuum between reproductive citizenship, on one hand, and individualism/consumerism, on the other. Thus, Bryan Turner (2001) has defined the concept of reproductive citizenship as a route to active social participation through reproduction, all the more important in the times of general erosion of other traditional forms of citizenship (such as worker-citizen and warrior-citizen). Reproductive citizenship is a reflection of nationalism and demographic interests of the state, which has a stake...

    • Chapter 14 Ethnography, Exegesis, and Jewish Ethical Reflection: The New Reproductive Technologies in Israel
      (pp. 340-362)
      Don Seeman

      The State of Israel has emerged as a leader in the use and development of new reproductive technologies. It is well-known for example, that Israel boasts more IVF clinics per capita than any other country in the world, and is one of the only nations to make this technology available at public expense to women without regard to their marital status or sexual orientation (Kahn 2000). More surprising perhaps is that Israel, where determinations of personal status and the legality of reproductive technologies are subject to veto by state-authorized religious authorities, specifically legalized donor insemination at least a decade before...

  8. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 363-368)
  9. Index
    (pp. 369-372)