Monday, March 28, 2005

clarity of thought

Its been an interesting few weeks. I have had to examine what I do when Halacha(or medical ethics derived from Halacha) conflicts with accepted western ethical/moral/legal standards. I have also been beset with some accusations. The accusations, when they have come, have mostly been of standing passively by, and/or condoning murder. I must ask those accusers, and even those who dont believe it was murder(or who dont think we have an obligation to intervene) the following questions:

1. why have you not been this agitated with other cases of withdrawal of care?

2. If Ms. Shiavo had a living will that specifically expressed her desire not to remain in a persistant vegetative state, would you still call it murder?

3. Is it the uncertainty over her condition and/or her wishes that provokes this reaction?

4. Is Halacha supposed to be the law in the United States with regard to medical care?

5. Would it make a difference if Ms. Schiavo was Jewish?

6. How would you treat a person who had a spinal cord injury, could not breath without a breathing machine, who asked to be withdrawn from the machine?

7. If Ms. Schiavo had a life threatening infection, would you insist she be given antibiotics?

8. What are the factors that determine how loud we raise our voices to ensure that the laws of the land are in consonance with Halacha? if at all?

9. Assuming that we will never have a society in the us governed by halacha, is it better to err on the side of too much freedom? or too much restriction? In other words, too much freedom allows Jews to practice as they want, without any restriction, but also allows looser societal values. Whereas restriction may limit our ability to practice, but societal values and practices would be more in keeping with the moral values of the Torah. You can err at the extremes like the French, who do not allow kippot in school, or with the inquisition at the other side. More moral values in society at the expense of the occassional mention of Jesus in school? Which is more preferable?

I came across some articles that I will try to abstract in the next few days that address the role that Judaism should play in the public sphere in general, and a little specifically dealing with cases like Ms. Schiavo.

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