Agudath Israel Opposes Assisted Suicide Bill

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Agudath Israel of America, in testimony before the New York State Assembly Health Committee today, expressed strong opposition to a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe medication for terminally ill patients that would kill them. The bill, Assembly Bill 2383-A, the Medical Aid in Dying Act, would make suicide legal.

The Agudah testimony was presented by Mordechai Biser, Special Counsel to Agudath Israel of America and General Counsel to Chayim Aruchim, a division of Agudath Israel of America that assists patients and their families and advocates for patient’s rights. The testimony stated that in Jewish tradition, all human life is sacred, and laws that undermine the sanctity of human life send a message that is profoundly dangerous for all of society.

 Rabbi Biser explained that suicide is strictly forbidden under Jewish law, and that “the historical disapprobation of suicide has been one of the pillars of civilized societies throughout the generations.” He went on to state that another principle of Jewish law and ethics is that a doctor’s role is to provide healing, not to hasten death. Agudath Israel views with considerable alarm the transformation of the physician’s calling envisioned by the bill in question, which would enable doctors to provide suicide medication to patients.

The testimony also cited the potential abuses of legalizing suicide. The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, in opposing physician-assisted suicide, noted the following concerns: the pressures patients would feel, from their doctors and their families, to opt for suicide; the inherent inequalities of our health care delivery systems which tend to discriminate against the poor, the handicapped and the elderly; the psychological vulnerability of the severely ill; the risk of misdiagnoses of the patient’s condition; the likelihood in many cases that adequate treatment of pain and depression would dissuade the patient from seeking death. Agudath Israel concurred with the Task Force’s observation that “as a society, we have better ways to give people greater control and relief from suffering than by making it easier for patients to commit suicide or to obtain a lethal injection.”

The testimony concluded by urging the Health Committee to defeat the legislation, stating that “legalizing suicide would be a rapid descent into a moral abyss where the millennia-old rejection of suicide is being cast aside in the name of humanitarian ‘progress’.”

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

Source: “Agudath Israel Opposes Assisted Suicide Bill”, The Yeshiva World

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