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Medical Forum Attacks Proposed 'Mercy-Killing' Law

Hotem Forum says approving a law for doctor-assisted suicide would be a terrible blow to Israeli morality, start a 'slippery slope'.
By Yosef Berger
First Publish: 6/8/2014, 3:39 PM

MK Ofer Shelah
MK Ofer Shelah
Flash 90

An Israeli group has come out against a law to legalize “mercy killings” that is to be considered by the Knesset. The Hotem Forum, which represents religious researchers working at universities and institutions, published a position paper against the law that Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah is set to propose.

If approved, the law would allow doctors to determine and recommend “end of life” procedures for the terminally ill. The law would apply when terminally ill patients state their desire to end their lives twice, two weeks apart, in the presence of two witnesses. At that point, the patient would sign a waiver, if they are physically able to do so, and doctors would arrange for an end of life procedure.

According to Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Halpern - who directs the Schlezinger Institute, one of the groups represented by the Forum - the proposal's adoption would mean that the state sanctioned suicide, or even murder.

“If we start deciding on our own whether or not a life is worth saving, we open up a discussion on which lives are 'worthy' of being saved and which aren't.”

There will be no way to halt the fall of society down the “slippery slope” this proposal will engender, he said.

“The law will allow society to end the lives of those who don't 'fit in.' Doctors will become a law unto themselves. Murder will become a normal, accepted act,” he added.

A spokesperson for the Forum said that numerous studies had showed that there were many complications emerging from the law.

“In Switzerland, for example, they found that the drugs they used to end the lives of patients didn't always work properly, and people were in terrible pain for many hours. Doctors have a right to heal, but not to hurt. The Knesset must stop this moral slippage before it is too late,” the spokesperson added.