IVF as a tool of Jewish nationalism?

Apparently Israel is the world leader in IVF funding. Every Israeli citizen, and all Jewish residents of the West Bank & occupied territories (but not Palestinian residents), get as many IVF cycles as they want for free.

Single women and the “situationally infertile” qualify for advanced reproductive treatment too, at least according to a policy brief that a friend passed my way.

Sounds great! Since I am Jewish,  I could go to Israel, become a citizen under the Law of Return and receive unlimited government-funded IVF!

But I would never do that.

The policy brief referenced above delicately alludes to some “ethical concerns,” including an over-emphasis on nationalism and childbearing. I’m pretty sure this is a characteristic of nationalism generally and settler-states in particular.

I bet you could find a South African or US equivalent of this quotation from David Ben-Gurion, one of the founders of the Israeli state: “A Jewish woman who does not bring at least four children into the world is defrauding the Jewish mission.”

(If you want to read more on this check out Gender and the Israeli Palestinian Conflict by Simona Sharoni,  who one of my favorite teachers of all time.)

I wish the US had a health insurance program as comprehensive as Israel’s, that everyone here had access to a spectrum of services ranging from ER care to IVF.

But wielding IVF as a tool of demographic warfare, to use a strong term, seems just as wrong as denying health care to low-income people and immigrants.

I’m going to read more about this, starting with Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel.  More thoughts on this coming soon.


4 Responses to “IVF as a tool of Jewish nationalism?”

  1. I didn’t know that about Israel. Thanks for the info.

  2. This is really interesting. Having gvt funded health care can cut both ways: in England you have to “wait in line” until it’s your turn to do IVF. So no walking into an RE’s office and getting down to business. But at least it’s free. It’s never prefect, is it?

    I’m going to read the articles you attached when I get a chance. Thank you for sharing.


  3. Happy ICLW! This was a very interesting post. I am also Jewish and didn’t know this about Israel. I live in Massachusetts and we have mandatory IVF coverage here. It is AMAZING to have this coverage as it takes the money factor out of the equation and gives patients (like me) the opportunity to avoid having multiples. I wish you all the best!

    ICLW #61

  4. A few states here have mandates. We were lucky to live in Illinois when we were going thru our IVFs. But even then, the insurance would only pay for up to 4 rounds. We did 2 unsuccessful rounds and stopped. Something should be done to help us here. We now live in Tennessee-no mandate which means, no more fertility treatments even if we wanted too. 😦

    via iclw

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