Progressively Speaking: The ethics of developing a ‘cure’ for menopause
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
Analysis

Progressively Speaking: The ethics of developing a ‘cure’ for menopause

Rabbi Miriam Berger takes a topical issue and looks at a Reform Jewish response

Hot flush from menopause
Hot flush from menopause

It’s always the same outcry when there is an advancement in the medical world: the sudden fear that because we have the ability to do something, it will be used irresponsibly. Recent news of Professor Simon Fishel’s pioneering medical breakthrough to delay the onset of menopause is no exception.

Before we women say no more to the symptoms that might come with “the change”, such as hot flushes and uncontrollable moods, we should agree these medical delay tactics are not to be used lightly, and may not work for everyone.

My own hope in medical science included seeing IVF as the expensive “cure” to secondary infertility, which unfortunately left me deeply disappointed.  My mother-in-law lost her fight with leukaemia despite stem cell transplants being heralded as the “cure”.

Just because something should work doesn’t mean it always will.

As a rabbi thinking of whether medical advancements are ethical, I have to deal with a familiar challenge: “We shouldn’t play God.”

My only answer comes in the form of one of the oldest jokes – the one with three people in a boat with a leak who are left adrift in the middle of the ocean. When two are saved, the most pious of the three finds themselves at the Gates of Heaven addressing the Holy One, asking how their prayers could be ignored in the moment of grave danger.

God simply replies: “I sent you a life jacket and a rescue helicopter –what else am I to do?!”

However, I fear that with every new breakthrough, the much-loved NHS model becomes more unsustainable. It is a constant mathematical equation: does the cost of the new cure outweigh the costs of treatments that deal with the symptoms? When they don’t, it has added to the lottery of who will be awarded this respite and who will be left suffering.

With so many menopausal symptoms being those reported, but hard to quantify and measure, it may just be another treatment available only to a select few.

When women are suffering, many in silence, we cannot question whether this is a wonderful advancement. We can,  however, ask how we will pay for it, and how can we ensure it remains available to every woman, so it becomes a medical breakthrough to help those with the greatest need.

  • Rabbi Miriam Berger serves Finchley Reform Synagogue
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments