Hastening Death vs. Letting Death Come

When it's acceptable to use a "living will" to end treatment of terminally ill patients

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It would be permissible, according to this point of view, to help and assist those who may need to make these kinds of judgments for us in the future through a "Living Will." This may be especially important if there is no one present who can be counted on to make an appropriate decision in keeping with our verbally expressed wishes. The document must be worded so that it deals with the "persistent vegetative state" without moving toward euthanasia. The document should be sufficiently recent to assure that it reflects the wishes of the patient.

All of us wish for a reasonable exit from this world and would also like to make that period as bearable as possible for ourselves and our surviving family. The positive outlook on life which governs Judaism prohibits any drastic steps toward death but it does not insist that life continue when the person is a goses. At that point a peaceful release is permitted. The "Living Will" provides one possibility; the appointment of a proxy provide another.

March 1989

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