February 21—The Rabbinical Alliance of America (RAA/Igud) has issued the following statement, authored by prominent rabbi and physician, Rav Aaron E. Glatt, MD.
Halachah absolutely forbids the active taking of life, regardless of the “quality of that life” as perceived by ever-changing social and or secular mores.
Jewish law sanctions forsaking of additional life-prolonging treatment and passively permitting a patient to pass away under specific circumstances. However, this is usually only considered towards the end of life for a suffering patient, and only after consultation with a knowledgeable rabbinical authority.
“Comfort care” and discontinuation of active treatment is usually only a consideration when there is no medical expectation of palliation or cure, and especially if the patient is suffering with a terminal condition. Likewise, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders are permissible under the appropriate halachic conditions after rabbinical discussion and approval. Every effort must always be made to relieve pain and suffering through aggressive therapeutic means. But under no circumstance is active euthanasia ever permitted, no matter how noble the intentions of the involved parties.
Therefore, even with a mentally competent suffering patient’s request and a willing physician partner, physician-assisted suicide, so-called “mercy killing,” is essentially an act of retzichah (murder) and is absolutely forbidden by all halachic authorities.
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Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, member of the (RAA/IGUD) presidium, affirms that the New Jersey Alliance Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide has the full support of the RAA, as it is in conformance with the Seven Universal Laws of Noah, a code that applies to all of humanity without exception. Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice president of the RAA, declared that the campaign to defeat the Doctor-Prescribed Suicide Bill A2270 is an important one for all who value the sanctity of life.
The RAA/IGUD, founded in 1942, is a professional rabbinical organization representing over 850 rabbis in North America.