The Meuhedet HMO and the haredi Yad Ramah Institute are holding a conference tomorrow in Jerusalem for rabbis and top doctors on gynecology and related medical ethics issues. Missing from the list of invitees and speakers is one entire class of person – women themselves.
Haredi Conference On Gynecological Health Excludes…All Women
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Meuhedet HMO and the haredi Yad Ramah Institute are holding a conference tomorrow in Jerusalem for rabbis and top doctors on gynecology and related medical ethics issues. But Ynet's Hebrew-language website reported today that missing from the list of invitees and speakers is one entire class of person – women themselves.
And that violates the stated position of the Israel Medical Association (IMA) not to facilitate or participate in the exclusion of women.
"The members of the [IMA’s] ethics committee are aware that this is a process of broad social and profound religious extremism extends beyond the framework of medicine. However, they feel as [IMA Ethics Committee] members that their obligation is to take a determined stand against the exclusion of women in general, especially when it occurs in the health system," an IMA position paper from 2011 reportedly reads.
The IMA also bans members from taking part in conferences and the like which exclude women.
“Doctors shall not participate in any medical or scientific event which takes place to the exclusion of women, whether they are accounted for and whether [those excluded women] are doctors [or not],” the position paper says.
Nonetheless, several top doctors – including Neri Peffer, Shlomo Mashiach, Benny Bar-Tov, Hananel Holzer, Ron Rabinowitz, Rafael Pollack and Michael Nadjar – are violating their own professions ethics to speak at the conference.
The CEO of the religious Hiddush Religious Freedom and Equality, Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, called the IMA ban on its members to attend the event and urged all doctors to cancel their participation.
"The conference proves how important it is to make the exclusion of women a criminal offense. The idea that Meuhedet Health and Shaare Zedek Medical Center will hold a meeting with the doctors and rabbis where men…will talk about women's health without even [one woman] participating…is surreal, and it is hard to believe that could still exist in a country that claims to be a pluralistic [democracy]," Regev said. "It turns out the epidemic of the exclusion of women is a phenomenon that is not easily going away…It also turns out that there is no limit to the willingness of the Meuhedet Health Fund and Shaare Zedek Medical Center to flatter haredi fanatics, and is therefore essential that the IMA and the Knesset will do for them [what they won’t do for themselves and force the inclusion of women by making excluding women a crime].”
Meuhedet Health claimed the conference is only meant to reach out to haredi rabbis, and therefore it is justified for it to exclude women in order to increase the likelihood the rabbis will attend.
“In the Jerusalem district the [Meuhedet Health] Fund serves half a million policyholders, two hundred and fifty thousand of them haredim.…This conference is designed for neighborhood rabbis and is not open to the public. It aims to strengthen ties with these rabbis in order to enhance cooperation between them and Meuhedet through open dialogue with physicians in the field of gynecology. Since the aim of the conference is to create a dialogue with dozens of neighborhood rabbis who give advice to hundreds of thousands of our policyholders, it is correct to adapt the makeup of the meeting audience [and presenters to reflect the sensibilities] of the audience” – the haredi rabbis – “[the conference] is intended to serve,” Meuhedet Health reportedly said in a statement.