Kosher Ultrasound

I normally link videos directly but this one’s rather spectacular despite being locked to the site.

TLDR? Ultrasounds during pregnancy are not good.

The points made?

1.  All interventions of birth defects are abortions

Not quite. A lot of the interventions can save a child by simple interventions. A good example is the treatment of twins. Ultrasonogram is the gold standard, not having an ultrasound would force doctors to rely on palpation leading to a more stressful birth. Now imagine how stressful life is having a normal delivery get converted to a C-Section due to the “surprise” of twins.

2.  Ultrasounds cause unnecessary anxiety

Dear Rabbi.. You are an expert in the religious texts of your god while medicine is an expert in fixing human beings. Don’t bring 2500 year old texts to  a science fight.  I get it. You don’t like abortions because you think severely ill children are a gift from a loving god designed to challenge you. But we believe it’s a woman’s choice on whether or not they wish to care for a child who may never ever grow up. For instance? My dear friend “A” lost a baby like this. I use the term baby because she wanted the foetus to grow up to be a child. The foetus had no diaphragm and was not expelling urine. So it’s bladder had grown to a large size and simply crushed the other organs into dysfunction. Had the child been born? It would have died shortly. The trauma of carrying the child to that state for another 8 to 10 weeks was too much. A late term abortion was done and the child even had a funeral and a name.

The anxiety of whether or not a child is healthy is present even in patients who don’t get to see their ultrasonograms. In your mind the health of the child isn’t important, but most parents want to know how healthy the child is when the child is born. They ask. Mothers are anxious about the health of their babies and for most parents this can assauge such anxiety more than it not existing.

3. I don’t get the third point he makes. If we know about a birth defect then a miracle is required to change the status of the child.

Schrodinger’s cat. Your cat is technically alive and happy as long as you ignore the distressing signs coming from the box…

This is the rather laughable notion that no news is good news. But also lives under the assumption that the number of children aborted due to diseases is worse than the number of children and mothers saved by prompt medical intervention.

To hear him speak, one would assume that these interventions detract from the miracles god would have performed had we not peeked, because god is some sort of divine Ob/Gyn.

4. There are things human beings are not meant to know…

Human beings aren’t really meant to know how your insides look without cutting someone in half like an inept magician but thanks to the advent of CT and MRI we can see these things. It’s simple? Don’t ask the gender of the baby. Doctors don’t just blurt it out, it’s generally not told unless you request it. This is literally the least and basest use of ultrasound. That’s like banning writing because you can draw penises on the paper.

5. There are Medical issue with Ultrasound

No there aren’t. In ever case, USG has proven to be safe and is a cheap, easily available method of visualising the foetus.

It is kind of irritating when religious leaders think they are fit to offer medical advice based on the vast knowledge of the archaic laws of ancient religions while having little knowledge of human physiology and the technology involved.

If we are debating the natural order of things then perhaps we should note that speaking to someone via devices made of sand and dead life forms for millions of years ago powered by tame lightning made from burning dead monsters is highly unnatural as things go. More so than a simple ultrasound.


  1. smrnda says

    This seems like an odd position for a rabbi to take, given that (from what I can tell) testing for Tay-Sachs (which affects Ashkenazim) is kind of standard. I wonder if all religions have started an anti-choice pissing contest – I mean, there was a time when Catholic views on birth control were ridiculed by Protestants, and now anti-contraception views are becoming increasingly loud from the Protestant camp.

  2. angharad says

    My mother was convinced that my youngest brother was going to be a girl. So convinced that she only took the frilly, girly baby clothes out of storage and for the first few months of his life my brother got to be dressed as a girl. Somehow I suspect that the Rabbi would disapprove of that…

    I was equally as convinced about my youngest, but only until 20 weeks. Gave me more time to get over the dissonance too. By the time he was born it was not a rude shock that he wasn’t what I thought he was. I imagine that could interfere with one’s bonding with one’s baby.

  3. theobromine says

    I also thought that my second was going to be a girl. Ultrasound technology at the time couldn’t definitively tell, but he was identified as “probably” a boy at around 26 weeks. I had already had a boy, so clothes were not much of an issue, especially since I didn’t have any problems dressing my guys in pink or purple or pretty flowers (hand-me-downs from friends and family), and as I recall, baby clothes were far less gender-specific 25-30 years ago. (Seriously, why is it so important to signal the gender of babies and young children?)

    But beyond that, I am very disturbed by the idea that having a kid of the “wrong” gender would significantly interfere with parent-baby bonding. Seriously? Which of a parent’s aspirations for their newborn would be negated by them not being the expected gender?

  4. angharad says

    Nah, you could still get pretty gender specific baby clothes then (and we are talking about slightly more than 30 years ago). Also it was far less acceptable to dress your baby boy in pink, unless you were really pretty radical and my mother was not (or perhaps more to the point my father certainly wasn’t).

    My point about the bonding thing was not about having aspirations for one’s child, just a mental image of ‘I’m having a boy’ or vice versa. I don’t know that everyone would be the same, but I found that having the 20 week ultrasound (I didn’t have any later ones – it’s not standard here in Australia, at least not in the public system) and finding out the gender of my child made them seem more concrete and real, and made me feel more connected to them. When I found out that the child I thought was female was male it was disconcerting, not because I had any particular desire for one or the other, or because I envisioned their (or my) life being any different, but just because they were not the person I thought I had been getting to know. It was a brief and not particularly strong feeling, but I imagine it would be stronger if you had the wrong impression for 9 months instead of 5. Having said that, people have surely been coping with such problems for a very long time…

  5. theobromine says

    First, it’s worth noting that, until fairly recently (i.e. less than 100 years), parents were often more reticent about investing a lot in the relationship with their unborn or even newborn, given the high infant and child mortality rates. Second, I find it rather disconcerting to consider that a switch in gender would make a child so different from “the person [you] thought [you] had been getting to know. There is so much that a parent doesn’t know about the personality of their child, and gender seems like it ought to be such a minor component.

    (And, yes, almost 30 years ago I and my spouse were radical enough to dress our baby boys in pink, if that happened to be the colour of clothing we had acquired. As a matter of fact, one of them even had pink as a favourite colour until he was about 7. But I still assert that there seemed to be less need for gender-signalling then there appears to be these days – you could dress your little girl in sweat pants *without* frills around the hips.)

  6. angharad says

    I don’t consider gender to be a component of someone’s personality. I do consider it to be a fairly major component of their identity. And I’m not thinking of the child purely in terms of personality, but of their entirety as a person. It’s kind of like sometimes when you get to know someone on line you can get an idea of what they look like in your head. And then when you actually meet them, or see a picture, and they’re nothing like what you imagined, you get a bit of a shock. It might not change how you interact with them at all – they are still the same personality, and you can still have the same conversations etc – but your conception of the person has still changed.

    I apologise for any formatting oddities by the way. I am on my phone and it doesn’t want to play nicely with the comments box…

  7. theobromine says

    Since gender is a continuum, I fail to understand how a baby’s apparent sex can be used to form a clear idea of who they are to become as a person. All you know is that the baby has genitalia of a certain sex. What if they turn out to be transgender or genderqueer? Or someone who clearly identifies as a boy but happens to like pink and/or frills*? Or clearly identifies as a girl but doesn’t want to wear dresses, and wants to climb trees and play with trucks?

    If I find that I am shocked when I meet someone IRL who is at odds with my image of them from knowing them online, I conclude that I have made invalid and unwarranted assumptions about them, and resolve to learn how to not do that in future.

    *note that many heterosexual and cisgender European men wore frilly clothes in the 1700s

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