OU Testifies in Senate Against Assisted Suicide and for Pain Relief

Posted on May 2, 2000 In Press Releases

Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America will present testimony to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing on the Pain Relief Promotion Act – a measure that would strictly limit physician assisted suicide while promoting more aggressive treatment of pain in chronically ill persons. The testimony will be delivered by Rabbi J. David Bleich – a professor of Jewish Law at Yeshiva University’s rabbinical seminary and a law professor at Yeshiva’s Cardozo Law School.

“PRPA” will create additional protections under the law for physicians who use controlled substances to relieve patients’ extreme pain. The measure provides a “safe harbor” for doctors who prescribe controlled substances (ie: narcotics) to reduce pain even if the use of such drugs unintentionally leads to a patient’s death. The House passed the measure overwhelmingly last year.

Rabbi Bleich’s testimony on behalf of the Union emphasizes the fact that “Judaism places the highest importance on palliation of pain, particularly in the case of terminal patients,” and simultaneously, that “Judaism teaches that suicide is an offense against the Deity who is the Author of life.” With these twin teachings in mind, Rabbi Bleich stated that “Jewish law and tradition would enthusiastically endorse the provisions of H.R. 2260 [the Pain Relief Promotion Act].”

To read Rabbi Bleich’s testimony, click here.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations has been heavily involved in efforts, in both Congress and the courts, to restrict physician assisted suicide and promote better treatment of pain for several years.