We know that Judaism holds the preservation of human life as one of its supreme moral values. For millennia, Judaism has taught the infinite value and sanctity of human life and that we must seek to preserve it, while at the same time taking all responsible measures to comfort the ill. The Torah instructs us to “surely heal” the ill, not to speed their departure from this earth.
Recently, the State of Montana joined Oregon and Washington as third state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The State’s highest court ruled that Montana law “explicitly shields physicians from liability for acting in accordance with a patient’s end-of life wishes, even if the physician must actively pull the plug on a patient’s ventilator or withhold treatment that will keep him alive,”.
The Montana case was not the first to tackle this controversial topic. In 2001, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft attempted to block an Oregon law permitting assisted-suicide (the first of its kind). Five years later, a 6-3 decision by the United States Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Ashcroft, subsequently opening the door to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide on the state level.
While the facts of this case differ, both decisions share a common result. Once again, a court has decided against the sanctity of life and for the legality of physician-assisted suicide, a practice that is in direct conflict with our core values as members of the Jewish people.