News reports out of Israel indicate that the nation’s parliament has devised a way to allow for euthanasia without violating Jewish law, which forbids human action in taking human life. According to The Telegraph [London], the legislators came up with a scheme that would employ a machine to kill terminally ill patients.
As the paper reports: A special timer will be fitted to a patient’s respirator which will sound an alarm 12 hours before turning it off. Normally, carers would override the alarm and keep the respirator turned on but, if various stringent conditions are met, including the giving of consent by the patient or legal guardian, the alarm would not be overridden. Similar timing devices, known as Sabbath clocks, are used in the homes of orthodox Jews so that light switches and electrical devices can be turned on during the Sabbath without offending religious strictures.
The bill was passed by the Knesset by a vote of 22 to 3, with one abstention. Danny Naveh, Israel’s health minister, applauded the passing of the law saying: “This is one of the most important laws passed by the Knesset. It represents a major moral value for the terminally ill and their families.”
Really? This kind of moral casuistry is what gives ethical philosophy a bad name. No one is fooled by this kind of ethical charade. The fact that a human being will set the machine so that it will turn itself off does not mitigate human responsibility to any degree. This is no “moral value for the terminally ill and their patients.” To the contrary, this is just the Culture of Death deployed via machine.
Just consider this: If a murderer used a machine with a timer as an instrument to kill a healthy person, his use of the machine would not be understood to reduce his moral accountability. So, the real issue is that the terminally ill are understood to possess a lesser claim upon human dignity and human life. For them, a killing machine is now to be legal. This is a moral disaster for the nation of Israel.
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
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