Friday, February 19, 2010

Reform Responsa

Our class on Reform Responsa has been going great, and we’ve got one more session – Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Even if you haven’t joined us, yet, you’re welcome to do so – we look at different cases each time, so you can jump in whenever you want to.

The three topics for this week (subject to change, of course) will be:

  • What does Reform Judaism say about in vitro fertilization, and about the status of an embryo so created?
  • Would Reform Judaism support compulsory immunization of children?
  • Does Reform Judaism endorse, allow or forbid same-sex marriages?

As a prelude to the class, I want to open up a discussion on one of these. I really want to do the last one, but I’m going to avoid it, because it’s often hard to have a controlled, measured discussion about topics like that in a forum like this. So, let’s stick with immunization.

Speaking from your own perspective – is it right to compel parents to immunize their children? If you have any knowledge about this, what do you think Reform Judaism would/should say about that? And, what are the reasons behind your opinions? That’s at least as important as the opinions themselves.

Let the games begin…


Missy said...

First off, as you well know, I have no knowledge of Jewish law, so I can only comment on my feelings on this matter.

I have to say, as a parent, I would absolutely despise being forced to do anything to my children, especially something that can affect their health and well-being. While I completely understand the need for universal vaccination for the benefit of everyone, it should still be up to the parents to make that decision. I can identify with those who choose not to vaccinate, since I have made the same choice with my animals, the difference being that we are given the opportunity to titer our animals to see if the vaccinations are needed rather than just blindly giving them shots at suggested intervals. I would much prefer this approach with my kids, too, since I have yet to see studies that have been done showing that kids really need to be vaccinated as often as they are.

As for those parents who choose not to vaccinate at all, I feel that they should be afforded that choice, even though in my mind it's foolish not to protect your children from preventable diseases. That said, I'm not sure I will vaccinate the girls for cervical cancer simply because the vaccine has so little history and some of the side-effects have been quite severe. And really, I'm hoping they will make smart and safe choices in that regard as they get older. I even hesitated about the H1N1 shots this winter for the same reason, but Mike was absolutely insistent about them and there were no immediate reasons to not give them. Hopefully that will continue to be true for the future.

So, no, I don't think anyone should be forced to vaccinate, but I do think education about the importance to the individual's health and the societal benefits should be emphasized to allow parents to make the correct decision for their own children.

Rabbi Jason Rosenberg said...

So, Missy, being a bit of a Devil's Advocate, you say, "as a parent, I would absolutely despise being forced to do anything to my children, especially something that can affect their health and well-being." How about laws involving car-seats? Isn't that another example of the government telling us how to parent, no matter what we think?