Dec 27, 2016
Taking a public position on a divisive policy issue, the 1000 member rabbis of the Rabbinical Council of America have published a formal resolution opposing physician assisted suicide.
A year ago, Canada joined Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland as well as the American states of Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California and Colorado in legalizing physician assisted death, also known as physician assisted suicide. The resolution notes the spread of these new laws with grave concern.
The resolution argues on behalf of Jewish law and tradition, which has long mandated that God alone may end life. Along with other clergy, rabbis witness some of the subtle pressures that medical systems exert on families and patients at the end of life. The resolution asserts that physician assisted death will inevitably prey on the most vulnerable in our society.
The resolution also notes that legalization of physician assisted death will likely soon force health care professionals of various faiths and consciences to face a conflict between their beliefs and the mandates of civil law. As a result, the health care community will be deprived of the talents of members of many faith communities.
The resolution calls physician assisted suicide a form of murder and those who participate in it as accessories to murder. It vehemently protests legalizing any pathway for killing the ill, since society thereby supports and normalizes the act of murder. It calls for legislators and medical care professionals to reject or limit physician assisted death laws where they are proposed, as well as to seek their limitation and repeal where they are already law.
Rabbi Shalom Baum, president of the RCA, said, “The Rabbinical Council of America will continue to defend the sanctity of human life, and its members will continue to advocate for all members of society, especially the elderly and the weak.”