Man passively euthanized in an 'unprecedented ruling'

The patient was afraid his ability to communicate with eye movements picked up by an electronic sensor would disappear, leaving him only with the ability to think.

December 9, 2014 19:29
1 minute read.
Hansen hospital

Hansen hospital. (photo credit: WWW.PIKIWIKI.ORG.IL)

The Justice Ministry on Tuesday allowed the publication of an “unprecedented ruling” in which a severely disabled victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s disease – was allowed by the Tel Aviv District to die in dignity even though his case was not strictly covered by the Dying Patient Law.

The unidentified man, who was able only to move his eyeballs because of the disastrous paralysis of his muscles, did not undergo active euthanasia to end his life, but the functioning of the respirator to which he was connected underwent a reduction in the air pumping rate and the concentration of oxygen in the air was reduced below that in regular air.

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Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein consulted with neurologists and ethicists and decided to approve the action carried out two weeks ago.

The deceased did not meet the criteria set down by the 2005 law for dying patients, as one of the requirements was having fewer than six months to live.

But the man, who has been suffering from ALS for nearly a decade, has been unable to speak and depended for his food and respiration on tubes.

He was afraid that his ability to communicate with eye movements picked up by an electronic sensor would also disappear, with only his ability to think remaining.

As a result, the patient decided he wanted to die in dignity.

The Dying Patient Law, which was never fully implemented, allowed terminal patients to be attached to a Shabbat clock that would allow them to request, when of sound mind and formally asking to die, that the clock turn off their supply of oxygen. Tel Aviv Judge Rahamim Cohen accepted Weinstein’s opinion and agreed that the man should be allowed to die.

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