Marlowe's Shade

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Is New Israeli Law Euthanasia?

From The Telegraph. Hat tip: Marine Momma

Machines will perform euthanasia on terminally ill patients in Israel under legislation devised not to offend Jewish law, which forbids people taking human life.

A special timer will be fitted to a patient's respirator which will sound an alarm 12 hours before turning it off.

Normally, carers would override the alarm and keep the respirator turned on but, if various stringent conditions are met, including the giving of consent by the patient or legal guardian, the alarm would not be overridden.

Similar timing devices, known as Sabbath clocks, are used in the homes of orthodox Jews so that light switches and electrical devices can be turned on during the Sabbath without offending religious strictures.

Parliamentarians reached a solution after discussions with a 58-member panel of medical, religious and philosophical experts.

"The point was that it is wrong, under Jewish law, for a person's life to be taken by a person but, for a machine, it is acceptable," a parliamentary spokesman said.

"A man would not be able to shorten human life but a machine can."

First, I think it's inappropriate to call removal of artificial life support "euthanasia". If a patient is not improving and they depend on a respirator to stay alive and it isn't their wish to do so, I see nothing morally wrong with letting nature take its course. Death isn't being "hastened", which is my working definition of euthanasia.

I understand the reason for the machines to avoid breaking Jewish law. I do find the "automation" aspect unsettling and I hope this solution doesn't get misapplied outside of Israel.
papijoe 8:39 AM