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August 31, 1990 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-08-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 31, 1990

968-2620

Marjorie Norman holds a living will, which describes her wishes should
she become incapacitated.
Hemlock co-founder Janet
sustaining equipment, but it
Good is optimistic it will be
does not sanction anyone
addressed when the state
helping another end his life.
legislature meets again.
Halachah does not concern
• An April 1990 Roper Poll
Ms. Norman, who says she is
reveals the public's support
not religious. What does
both for an individual's right
concern her is that she will
to die and a physician's right
one day be able to die what
to help a terminally ill pa-
Hemlock members call "a
tient end his life.
good death" — a death for
Seventy percent of the
which she chooses the time
Jews surveyed expressed
and place; a death not
support for physician-
preceded by years of lying in
assisted suicide, as did 65
a vegetative state, straining
percent of the Protestants
the finances and emotions of
and 62 percent of the
family members; a death
Catholics.
without pain.
Asked whether parents of
"I'm not afraid to die," Ms.
Nancy Cruzan, a Missouri
Norman says. "I'm afraid of
woman comatose for the past
how I'm going to die."
seven years, should be
It was the death of his
allowed to disconnect the in-
wife, Jean, that prompted
travenous food and water
Derek Humphry to begin the
keeping her alive, 52 percent
Hemlock Society in 1980.
of the Jews surveyed said
Mr. Humphry, 59, helped his
yes, compared with 55 per-
cent of the Catholics and 61
percent of the Protestants.
And 80 percent of the
Jews, 78 percent of the
Catholics and 75 percent of
the Protestants surveyed
agreed that a doctor should
he Union for Tradi-
be legally bound to obey a
tional Judaism is
patient's request to be taken
making available a
off life-support machines if
generic Jewish living will,
he has signed a living will
which includes one's wishes
and there is no hope of re-
in the case of the victim's in-
covery.
capacitation and/or appoints
• Thousands of Japanese
a surrogate to make the
elderly travel each week to a
decision.
small temple in the ancient
Rabbi Ronald Price, ex-
capital of Nara to pray for
ecutive
vice president of the
pokkuri, a painless, quick
UTJ, said the motivation for
end to their lives. It is one of
the effort is to enable "the
many such pokkuri sites in
decision about life or death
the country. Said one visitor,
to be made in the context of
"Young people don't want to
Jewish law and tradition."
take care of old people."
The UTJ living will in-
All this has little to do
cludes the requirement that
with Halachah, Jewish law,
those responsible for
area rabbis say. Under some
deciding to attach or discon-
circumstances, Halachah
nect life support consult
may support an individual's
decision to remove life-

wife, who had been diag-
nosed with breast cancer,
kill herself. He is the author
of numerous books on the
subject of "self-deliverance"
— Hemlock's chosen term
for suicide — including Let
Me Die Before I Wake:
Hemlock's Book of Self-
Deliverance for the Dying.
Let Me Die offers in detail
numerous options for ending
one's life. The reader learns
how many pills are needed
for a fatal overdose, and
combinations of drugs that
result in death. In other
writings, Mr. Humphry
discusses "self-deliverance
via the plastic bag," describ-
ing where to place rubber
bands to guarantee suffoca-
tion, and reviews the merits
of using a clear versus an
opaque plastic bag.
According to Mr. Hum-
phry, some 2,000 patients a
year ask their doctor to kill
them. One of those who suc-
ceeded was Hemlock Society
member Janet Adkins of
Portland.
Ms. Adkins, diagnosed
with Alzheimer's disease,
ended her life last June with
the aid of a "suicide -
machine" created by Royal
Oak pathologist Jack
Kevorkian. The device
allows users to inject them-
selves with a lethal dose of
potassium chloride.
Hemlock members say the
Adkins episode helped bring
the issue of "self-
deliverance" to public atten-
tion. Another instance is
that of Nancy Cruzan, 32, of
Missouri, who has been in a
coma since she was injured
in a car crash seven years
ago. Ms. Cruzan's parents
fought to remove the feeding

UTJ Offers
Living Will

T

with a rabbi versed in
Jewish medical ethics. It
also includes a statement on
the administration of
medications for pain relief,
and home or hospice care
where there is no reasonable
hope of recovery.
Rabbi Price said that "no
organization has stepped
forward to deal with this
community problem, and we
felt it a necessary response
to what, is happening in the
secular world."
Those interested in receiv-
ing a copy of the will should
write the Union for Tradi-
tional Judaism, 261 E. Lin-
coln Ave., Mount Vernon,
N.Y. 10552. ❑

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