We still believe in the sanctity of life, that does not mean we believe in the sanctity of suffering. Rabbi Jonathan Romain
Opting for a lesser harm
By Ann David
Palliative Care doesn’t speak with one voice and neither does any religion including Judaism.
Traditionally, the hierarchy retains the moral absolutist position of black/white prohibitions according to the tenets of its ideology.
But within palliative care, as within religions, there are enlightened moral relativists – those who compare one set of harms against another set of harms and allow themselves the freedom to opt for the lesser harm even though this might oppose the official dogma.
Recognising the value of assisted dying
Increasingly, palliative care professionals internationally acknowledge that it is cruel to withhold assisted dying from certain patients whom it cannot help no matter how much is done to alleviate their suffering.
So it was heart-warming to read that Rabbi Jonathan Romain, a minister at Maidenhead Synagogue in England and the founder of Inter-faith leaders for Dignity in Dying said that assisted dying did not necessarily contradict his Judaic faith.
The occasion was an evening organised on the Channel Island of Guernsey which is currently debating assisted dying laws. Guernsey also wants to establish a Dignitas-style facility where Britons left in the cold by their purposefully ignorant MPs can come to request assisted dying in specified circumstances.
The Rabbi’s message
Of Judaism, the Rabbi said: “We still believe in the sanctity of life, that does not mean we believe in the sanctity of suffering”.
What a refreshing perspective on that held by the Catholic, Baptist and other fundamentalist religions!
New Zealand’s assisted dying laws are currently being debated in the Justice select committee who must report back to Parliament by the end of September, having considered some 30,000 submissions from the public.
What will they conclude?