Physician-assisted suicide and the struggle for the soul of the State of Israel
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Advocates of such a law question the quality of life for patients in the last stages of a terminal illness. They speak about "freedom of choice", a patient’s right to autonomy, dying with dignity, and compassion.
Even the late “Dr. Death,” Jack Kevorkian, called the device he used in the deaths of some of the 130 people he helped euthanize the “Mercitron,” evoking "mercy" and "compassion".
But according to Jewish Law, euthanasia is not compassion – it is murder (See Rambam, Hil. Rotze’ah 2:2-3). A patient has no right to take his own life, and, as Chief Rabbi David Lau already commented, a doctor’s sole responsibility is to heal – not to end life (see Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 336:1).
While some of the greatest legal authorities of the 20th century such as Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled that in some cases introducing treatment and taking measures in order to extend life are no longer required, all agree that doing anything to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient is akin to murder. Even in the case of a goses, who according to most authorities has less than 72 hours left to live, it is forbidden to take any action that may hasten his death – even touching the patient is prohibited! (Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 339:1) The Talmud (Avodah Zara 18a) relates that when Rabbi Chanina ben Tradion was being burned alive by the Romans, his students begged him to end his suffering by opening his mouth and allowing the flames to enter. Rabbi Chanina replied, “It is better for He who gave [me my soul] to take it, rather than cause injury to myself.”
This account illustrates that even the dying patient, suffering in pain, is prohibited from taking any action to hasten his death. R. Avraham Danzig rules that one must abstain from doing anything even if the patient’s pain is severe and his family is suffering severe emotional pain (Hokhmat Adam 151:14).
This should not be mistaken for cruelty or a lack of compassion. Instead, it expresses Judaism’s emphasis on life. Concerning the Torah’s laws, we are instructed to “Live by them” (Leviticus 18:5). The Talmud (Yoma 85b) adds, “And not die by them,” requiring the violation of all but three Torah laws in order to preserve life. For in the Jewish tradition, life is of infinite worth. A famous Talmudic passage teaches, “If any person has caused a single soul to perish, Scripture regards him as if he had caused an entire world to perish. And if any human being saves a single soul, Scripture regards him as if he has saved an entire world” (Sanhedrin 37a).
While advocates for physician-assisted suicide argue that a life of pain and suffering is not worth living, our tradition teaches that even the last few moments of life are of immeasurable worth.
And while even secular ethicists agree that euthanasia presents serious ethical, moral and legal questions, in some countries like Belgium and the Netherlands physician-assisted suicide is legal. Even in the United States, physician-assisted suicide has been legal in the State of Oregon since 1994. Oregon’s Death with "Dignity" Act allows for a physician to prescribe a lethal dose of medication for the purpose of ending the patient’s life. In fact, MK Ofer Shelah’s bill was designed based on Oregon law.
But Israel is not Belgium, the Netherlands, or the State of Oregon. The State of Israel is the "Jewish" state not when it talks about laws like this, and religious affiliations aside, Judaism values life above all.
In Judaism, life has sanctity. A law legalizing physician-assisted suicide
It’s high time we embrace our status as a “light unto the nations.” As the Shelah bill proceeds to a preliminary reading and is assigned to a committee, the State of Israel, as the Jewish state, has an obligation to articulate a clear message to the world that life has value and sanctity, and must be protected and preserved.
where are the protest in Yerushalim for this bill which is infinitely worse then then the draft
The author lives and teaches in Jerusalem.
(Jerusalem Post) highlights my additions
If you don't know about this story here are 2 stories from YWN
Israel: Ministerial Committee Approves Physician Approved Euthanasia Bill R”L
The Prescription Death Bill was debated by the Ministerial Law Committee on Sunday, 10 Sivan 5774. The bill sponsored by MK (Yesh Atid) Ofir Shelach seeks to pass into law "mercy" killings accompanied by a physician’s orders. The ministerial committee passed the bill.
If passed into law, a physician would be permitted to write a prescription to deliver a lethal dose of medication to a dying patient, to end one’s suffering. If the Knesset passes the bill into law, a doctor writing a fatal prescription will not be liable for any criminal activity under the law.
Shelach told his colleagues the problem is a big one, widespread, and one that needs to be addressed. He stated that with today’s technology and medical advancement life can be prolonged. He feels that his bill will give a patient a measure of control over his own life even during his final days. He feels the bill, if passed into law, will eliminate the legal issues faced by physicians wishing to assist one in ending one’s life today.
Chief Rabbi Lau Shlita Blasts Euthanasia Bill
Chief Rabbi David Lau Shlita told chareidi radio on Monday night the eve of 12 Sivan 5774 that the Euthanasia Bill passed by the Ministerial Law Committee earlier this week negates halacha and is nothing short of murder. Rav Lau cited how halacha permits physicians to heal, not chas v’sholom to take a life, a decision that remains exclusively in HKBH’s hands, not mortal man.
The rav warned that such an outrageous bill begins with taking the life of one who is terminally ill to end one’s suffering. From there it will extend to the mentally ill, and then even addressing those with what perceive to be poor quality of life. He expressed outrage over the bill and called on the ministers to reverse the unacceptable decision.
The bill would permit physicians to write a prescription for a fatal cocktail for terminally ill patients wishing to bring their suffering to an end.
What ever happened to the veto power that Bayit Yehudi Has on on bills of that are against the Torah?