End-of-Life bill approved for 2nd and 3rd readings

The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee on Tuesday approved for its second and third reading the long-awaited government bill dealing with the terminally ill. If passed, the bill -- which has been six years in the making, including deliberations by a public committee of experts -- would allow the terminally ill to die in dignity and without violating Halacha. If requested in a living will or by a person chosen to decide on his behalf, the terminally ill patient over 17 could ask that his life not be extended by artificial means such as a respirator, although the medical staff should try to persuade him to accept food, liquids and even a respirator. Active euthanasia would not be permitted, but the law would allow the halting of ongoing treatment (such as cyclically putting a patient on a respirator) using a timer device. The arrangements would make it unnecessary for families to turn to a court in each case.
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