CD 469 News Brief

Savior Siblings

After watching the movie My Sisters Keeper I was made aware of an idea known commonly as a “savior sibling.”  This is when parents decide to genetically create a child with the means of having the child save an existing child.  Parents who choose to do this often have a child who has a rare illness such as cancer or a blood disorder, where the child needs tissue of a perfectly matched donor. With the current medical technology doctors know how to take human embryo with the exact genetic match of the sibling to create a savior child.  My first thoughts on it were how much of a horribly immoral idea this was.  What would happen to a child philologically when they found out that the only reason they were born was to save your older siblings life.  It seems worse then finding out that you were an accident.

I decided to look more into this for my newsbrief and stumbled across a Jewish argument in support of savior siblings.  The author Michael Balinsky seems be writing to the general public or at least to those who are against this idea.  He agrees that this is not something that should be brushed off or thrown under the rug.  It’s very important that each life is appreciated to its fullest, and none are thought of as something that was ordered online and made to our liking.  Balinsky gives 3 arguments that support the idea.  Firstly is that people decide to have children for many different reasons, some moral, some lofty, some spiritual etc. not many bat an eye when they hear a story about having a baby to try and save a marriage.  In the end it doesn’t matter what the reason is, as long as the child is loved and nurtured.

A second reason is that even though we should not discard the concern about how today’s technology giving scientists the ability to do genetic matching, we’re not at the point of creating artificial children yet.  So this should not be our immediate concern.  Lastly if you look at a savior sibling through another lens, it can actually be a moral thing to do.  In the Jewish tradition one of the most important moral tasks is to save the life of someone else.  By creating a savior sibling you are completing that task.  I do understand where he is coming from.  I am not Jewish but I get that people can have children for spiritual reasons and if its part of your religion to save the life of someone else, you could call a savior sibling a spiritual reason for having a child.  However I am still not sure if I agree with this practice.


Balinsky, M. (2013). A Jewish argument for ‘savior siblings,’ A Journal of Jewish Ideas, Retrieved from:


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