In the most natural state, euthanasia defines a death positively sought after for mankind, in the act of dying and ultimately death. Unfortunately, the term historically and currently leads to debate and manipulation to insinuate a criminal act. World civilizations must remember the crimes of the past, and fear misplaced power as currently occurring in Darfur, however, the horror of genocide does not belong in the euthanasia debate. For decades, the world has been experiencing a battle between the advocates and opponents of legalizing euthanasia.
In recent months, Dr. Jack Kevorkian has assisted a number of persons in ending their lives. These persons suffered from a wide range of ailments from chronic, debilitating pain to Alzheimer's Disease. Does Judaism ever sanction suicide and may a physician or any other third party facilitate this process?
Taking one's life is regarded as halachically and morally improper. While we cannot personally condemn those who in the midst of unbearable pain and suffering take their own lives, we cannot encourage, condone, or participate in the commission of such an act.
The Torah was given to man so "that he may live. Because all human beings are formed in the image of the Divine, all life is regarded as being of infinite value regardless of its duration or quality.
As all mathematicians realize, infinity cannot be halved. If and when some human life is deemed to be less valuable than others, then life as a whole has gone from being infinite to being relative and the lives of us have become cheapened and debased.
Contemporary rhetoric, however, has taken a decidedly different turn. This article will explore the halachic parameters of this issue.
Before proceeding to the sources, however, one preliminary observation may be in order. The watchword of the "death with dignity" movement is autonomy or self-determination. All well and good. What proponents of autonomy fail to realize, however, or more ominously, what they realize and fail to express is that as formerly-unspeakable options become widely available, there is a tremendous societal pressure to have them exercised.
If and when assisted suicides become legalized and socially-acceptable, one could easily visualize scenarios where persons who truly would want to live given the chance and the encouragement will instead opt for death, viewing their lives as worthless, nonproductive, and a drain on their families.
Subtly or explicitly, societal consensus will push people into directions which on their own would have remained off-limits. Judaism, which values and cherishes all life, inescapably proceeds from the opposite premise as the following halachic sources indicate.
Judaism regards the taking of one's life as abhorrent and tantamount to murder. In practice, we generally assume that most suicides are the result of unbearable stress, pain, or depression and do not fall within the category of a premeditated, volitional act that is subject to these sanctions.
Nevertheless, the sympathetic recognition of a category akin to "temporary insanity" in no way lends normative sanction to the commission of the act.
Life is regarded as a sacred trust given to us by G-d and only G-d can take it away. Indeed, contrary to much of the rhetoric in contemporary moral and political discourse which stresses autonomy and control over one's life, Judaism teaches us that our very bodies are not our own.
They are a bailment.
As a repository for the soul, the body must be cherished and protected. Activities involving reckless endangerment e. It is forbidden to engage in self-mutilation. In a fascinating essay, the late Rabbi Shlomo Zevin demonstrated that, under Jewish law, Antonio's agreement to give Shylock a "pound of flesh" would be null and void because Antonio's very body is not his own to give away.
Granted that there may be occasions when aggressive, life-prolonging treatment need not be administered or may even be discontinued, the allowing of the natural process of death to occur by withdrawal of treatment is a far cry from actively terminating life.
Even ignoring the fact that persons may change their mind at a point where the process is irreversible, the "patient"'s desire is simply irrelevant. Killing oneself is not regarded as being within the legitimate scope of personal autonomy.
It stands to reason that it is immoral to assist, enable, or facilitate someone's committing an act which in itself is immoral for that person to commit.
The foregoing does not necessarily commit Judaism to a "life at all costs" position. There are a number of situations where, in the face of grave suffering, steps may be taken that would or could hasten death.
First, pain-relief medication such as morphine may be administered in spite of the risk that it may induce cardiac arrest, provided that the dose is not definitely lethal and is not administered for the purpose of life termination. Second, a patient may undergo a life-threatening, hazardous procedure which holds out even a slight hope of cure, though there is no obligation to do so.
Third, halacha permits the invocation of prayer that G-d take the person out of their pain and misery. Fourth, under narrowly-defined circumstances, life-sustaining or death prolonging treatment such as chemotherapy, or antibiotics may be discontinued; DNR or "Do Not Resuscitate" orders may be entered.
The end of the Book of Samuel I recounts that King Saul, after falling in war, took his own life fell upon his sword when his arms bearer refused to slay him. The exact interpretation of the Saul precedent is a matter of considerable controversy.The history of Western ethics Ancient civilizations to the end of the 19th century The ancient Middle East and Asia.
The first ethical precepts must have been passed down by word of mouth from parents and elders, but as societies learned to use the written word, they began to set down their ethical beliefs.
These records constitute the first historical evidence of the origins of ethics. As a follow-up to Tuesday’s post about the majority-minority public schools in Oslo, the following brief account reports the latest statistics on the cultural enrichment of schools in Austria. Vienna is the most fully enriched location, and seems to be in roughly the same situation as Oslo.
Many thanks to Hermes for the translation from timberdesignmag.com Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Essay Words | 6 Pages. Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Assisted suicide is one of the most controversial topics discussed among people every day. Everyone has his or her own opinion on this topic.
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1, words. The Controversial Issue Of Euthanasia Philosophy Essay. Print Reference this. it’s also known as the assisted suicide. Other different form is known as the involuntary passive euthanasia that let the patients die without their own request, this kind is known for patients who are in comas or unable to talk or communicate with others.(BBC.