This article contributes to the anthropology of morality through an ethnographic focus on the consultations of religiously observant Jews with rabbis and medical specialists regarding dilemmas surrounding prenatal diagnosis of fetal anomalies. Our ethnography looks at religious couples who consult rabbinic authorities on their reproductive dilemmas rather than making autonomous decisions and the procedures of decision-making that rabbis enact. We examine the rabbis’ emic practice of dividing moral labor and outsourcing it in a chain reaction to various medical and rabbinic experts. The purpose of outsourcing moral decisions and aggregating expert opinions is to lighten the heavy weight of moral responsibility for consultees as well as for the rabbinic consultants. In seeking expert consultations, people might actually be opting for liberation from freedom of choice—at least as defined in the model of autonomous decision-making—rather than merely submitting to an authoritative doctrinarian power, whether of religion or biomedicine. [moral labor, religion, prenatal diagnosis, biomedicine, Orthodox Jews].
|Number of pages||13|
|State||Published - 1 Dec 2019|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Our deepest gratitude goes to the women, rabbis, and doctors who shared their experiences of postdiagnostic decision‐making and to Avi Solomon for his comments. We are indebted to the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions and constructive criticism. The research was supported by a generous grant from the Israel Science Foundation. : There is no conflict of interest for either author. Declaration of Interest
© 2019 by the American Anthropological Association
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)