The Jerusalem Family Court decided on Wednesday to allow Shaare Zedek Medical Center to insert an internal breathing tube to be attached to a respirator into the neck of a 14-month-old girl who suffers from muscular dystrophy. The religious parents had refused to allow her life to be extended.
Her older sister suffered from the same genetic disease and died of complications of pneumonia the age of six.
The parents made their decision after consulting with a number of haredi rabbis (although it was not clear what the rabbis advised them).
But pediatricians at Shaare Zedek – an Orthodox hospital – insisted that the baby had a more simple tube in her neck that endangered her life and a week ago asked the court for permission to perform the minor operation.
The parents applied to the court, headed by Judge Daniel Teferberg, for permission for their child to be disconnected from her respirator, but according to the already-existing but hardly implemented terminal-patients’ law, active euthanasia – removing a breathing tube and detaching a respirator – is absolutely forbidden and a criminal act.
Shaare Zedek deputy director-general Dr. Ovadia Shemesh told The Jerusalem Post the hospital respects the right to life and that the baby could possibly survive for years, thus she was not considered a “terminal patient.”