"Eat, Pray, IVF" (Friday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. See how many enemies I've made with this bright "Let's all get together and talk religion" idea of mine.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right.  We discussed how Christianity, Hinduism and Islam feel about IVF. On to Judaism. There's nothing like ticking off your own people.So according to an article by Dr. Miryam Z. Wahrman in the Jewish Virtual Library, I'm not the first Jewish woman to have fertility issues: Apparently there are a slew of them in the Bible: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel...

Rachel, for instance, declared to her husband Jacob: "Give me children, otherwise I am dead."

The article suggests that this is because a childless person is as if they're dead.... Or perhaps Rachel was just being dramatic. I don't know the Bible. I just know my sistas.

Then Leah, Rachel's sister, got her hands on some plants which may have helped infertility but didn't want to share.

So poor desperate Rachel begged and whined and kvetched and told Leah that in return for some of them plants she would let her sister "know" her husband Jacob, just for one night, in a Biblical sort of way. 

Then, wouldn't you know it, Leah's fifth son was born nine months after Rachel got her plants.

And join us again tomorrow for "As the Old Testament Turns".

And, by the way, Rachel did get pregnant and had her son Joseph who grew up to become a big tadoo, a big macha: a pillar of the Egyptian community.

(For anyone who reads Spanish, pardon my spelling of the yiddish word "macha", which, for those of you who don't read Spanish means "lesbian". Let it be stated right here. I had no intention of calling Joseph a lesbian.)  

So, how does Judaism feel about IVF?

From what I've read: Not too bad.

As in the other religions we've discussed this week: IVF between a husband and wife. His stuff and her stuff, biologically speaking...is fine.

There is somewhat of an issue of how the sperm sample is going to be procured however. The "spilling of the seed" is not allowed. However, since it's not exactly being spilled but being used for procreation...all is dandy.

(Loophole you say?)

In the case of multiple embryos implanting in the uterus, ending the life of one or some of the fetuses is not considered murder...but it's not allowed either.

Selective reduction is only permitted if the doctor determines that if some weren't taken out, all of them would die.  (What doctor is going to look into his crystal ball and predict that?) 

There is also the issue of what to do with remaining frozen embryos. Of course the couple themselves using them to try for more children is fine.

Destruction of the embryos is not allowed BUT if they thaw on their own and are no longer viable...that would be okay.  (Another loophole you say?)

Donation of the extra embryos to another infertile couple isn't acceptable because, somewhere down the line (skeeve alert) you could inadvertently marry your genetic sibling.

Ancient times maybe. But nowadays couldn't you just say to the couple who got your embryos: "So, could you like text us every time you move for the next couple of decades? We kind of just want to keep track of who you are and where you're living".  

I've actually heard of genetic siblings inadvertently getting engaged...on Maury Povich. But it wasn't from embryo donation. It was from "Eighteen years ago, when Daddy told Mommy he was going to work, he should have gone."

Listen, I gotta go. I've got to go apologize to four different religions on five different continents.

If you have a spare sec: Check out this week's article in "The Health Experts". It's about how to (and not to) ask your doctor questions. http://laughingisconceivable.com/?page_id=642

I'll talk with ya on Monday.

"Eat, Pray, IVF" (Tuesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. You won't want to miss it. I conquered the topic of "religion". Tomorrow I'll deal with "sex" and the day after: "politics". They are three totally different topics aren't they?)  So, what were we talking about? Oh right. How various religions tackle the subject of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies) like IVF.

Hopefully this week's blogs will help you with the tough ethical question that we've all faced: "Should I find a doctor who will make sure my religious beliefs are adhered to? OR "Should I find a religion that lets me do whatever the heck I want?"

I thought I'd begin with Christianity. And, if tomorrow I still have any readers left, I'll move on to something else. Or maybe just lay low for a while.

One website, I'll be honest, just scared the daylights out of me.  Besides talking a lot about sin, it also stated that it was too risky to go into IVF territory since "4 out of 5" IVF pregnancies end with the baby dying. Hmmm. I think I'll have to consult with one of my medical experts. That number sounds a mite high to me.

I enjoyed an article by Dr. Elvonne Whitney. She's a Christian and as you may have picked up by the Dr., she's a doctor. As luck would have it, she's an OB/GYN. So chances are she's going  to be pro-Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Wouldn't you think?

Otherwise she probably would have become a Christian accountant or a Christian insurance salesperson or a Christian manager at Target.

According to Dr. Whitney's understanding of Christianity and ART, the technologies are only to be used for married couples where one or both partners is infertile/can't carry a pregnancy.

(I admit it. I know a lot of married couples who should probably be told: "So you guys are considering reproducing? Do you think that's such a good idea? You don't get along at all. May want to work on that marriage thing first.") 

In the article, Dr. Whitney discusses sperm donation:

The Dr. cites, in the Bible, the Old Testament Levirate rule that if your husband dies, his brother should take over his insemination duties to keep that family's genetic line going.

A terrible rule if your brother-in-law was a jerk. Maybe that's how "sperm donors" did start: "Don't you dare touch me, you loser! Just put it in a cup and leave it over there. I'll figure out what to do with it later."   

So if this translates into modern times, and your husband's not dead but his sperm isn't doing too well and he turns to his brother for assistance:  It should make for pleasant Thanksgiving dinner conversation:

"Dave, can you pass the potatoes?"

"First it's my sperm now it's the potatoes! Is it never going to end?!  What else do you people want from me?!"

Dr. Whitney also addresses the importance of freezing unused embryos so that they can be used for future children of your own or donated to an infertile couple. Of course discarding them is  forbidden, since the belief is that the sacred life starts at the very beginning: When an embryo becomes an embryo.

It might be nice if we could re-freeze some of our "embryos" later in life. "Mom, I wrecked the car again. I haven't passed any classes this semester. Oh, and this is my new girlfriend: She was dancing at a club I went to last night with my fake ID."

"Okay, that's enough young man! Back in the freezer and don't come out until  you're ready to straighten yourself out! I should have done it when you were ten!"

The article also mentioned the moral dilemma of being pregnant with multiples. You know if you get pregnant naturally and don't want a baby it's called an abortion. If you've gone through IVF, it's called "selective reduction." You get a nice little fancy euphemism for your $15,000.

Listen, I gotta go. I have to pray for spiritual guidance. "Why oh why, Lord, did I take on this topic?" Hopefully the answers will come.

I'l talk with ya again tomorrow.

"Eat, Pray, IVF" (Monday)

So, this week I'm going to be playing with fire. And some of you may want to throw a bucket of water over me. Or just throw a bucket at me. I'm goin' after religion. Okay, not going after it exactly. More like looking at how various religions view IVF and other Assisted Reproductive Technologies. But of course my business is humor, so get that bucket ready.  I'll probably inadvertently mock something sacred to somebody.

So, allow me right now, right here to make a reverse apology. (It's sort of like a reverse mortgage.) I may not have said anything yet that has offended you, and I have no idea what I'm going to write for the rest of this week, but let me say now, from the bottom of my heart: "I'm sorry."

This insane idea came from the calendar really. We are in the midst of the Islamic observance of Rahmadan. Soon we will be heading into the holiest time of year in Judaism, and this week, one of our Health Experts is Shari DeGraff Stewart who is a Pastoral Counselor (although the article itself has nothing to do with religion.) 

The article: "How to Ask Questions (and how not to!), I think, will help everyone ask good effective questions that will make the patient/Reproductive Endocrinologist relationship stronger and more effective towards the goal of getting us pregnant.

The article is by Shari DeGraff Stewart and Julia Fichtner Krahm. I tell you, all of us three-named-broads are going to be the ruination of modern civilization as we know it today. Just watch one of us at a CVS pharmacy attempting to pick-up a prescription:

"What's your last name?"


"Fox, Fox. I don't see anything under "F". Could it be under a different name?"

"My whole last name is Shandle-Fox." 

"Oh, maybe they put it under your first name. Your first name is Shandle?"

"No my first name is "Lori". My last name is "Shandle-Fox" .

"Oh, so it should be under "F" for "Fox". Let me look."

"Didn't we do that already? Look. Isn't that it right there in front, in the "S" bin?"

"Wait, let me just look one more time under "F"." 

So while she's face deep in the "F" bin, I meanwhile am standing on my tiptoes, reaching as far over the counter as my 5'3" body will take  me and swiping with my fingernails toward the "S" bin.  

"I don't understand. It's not there."

"Could you try the 'S' bin? My name is 'Shandle-Fox. Lori Shandle-Fox. And I'm telling you right now. You see my feet are no longer touching the floor and I'm already halfway over the counter. If you make a single move toward the "L" bin, you may as well call security."

Listen, I gotta go.  I'd better type up my formal apology to all organized religions and maybe a few disorganized ones.

"How to Ask Questions (and how not to!) can be found at:


I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.