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April 30, 1993 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-04-30

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rofessors And Lawyers
Dispute Assisted Suicide



> Geoffrey Fieger: Blames "zealots."

must hold that there is a
force that dictates the act
is intrinsically bad, or that
the act would have disas-
trous consequences over a
long period of time and
among many people."
Though Dr. Cohen did
not object to state regula-
tions on assisted suicide,
he said that an all-out ban
on it implies that people
are the property of govern-
"I submit that viewing
my life as the property of a
state or higher being is
flawed," he said. "If any-
one owns me, I do."
Dr. David Velleman, a
U-M philosophy professor,
disagreed with the argu-
ments presented by Mr.
Fieger and Dr. Cohen. He
said the issue is not about
rights, but rather about
harm and benefits.
"People can be harmed
by being given options, by
putting them in the posi-
tion where they want to
exercise an option when
they previously didn't
have it," he said. "If you
are the night clerk at a
convenience store, man-
agement might have
denied you the option of
opening the safe — and
you might not want that

eoffrey Fieger, attor-
ney for "medicide"
doctor Jack Kevor-
kian, was one of four
who locked horns
during a public debate on
K assisted suicide April 22 at
the University of Mich-
In a sometimes fiery
(- tirade against "religious
, zealots," Mr. Fieger
j denounced the recent ban
> on assisted suicide in
"We're talking about
\Andividual rights, civil
rights, the rights of an
individual versus the right
of the state to make deci-
sions for you," Mr. Fieger
said. "The reason this
l \ issue is debated is because
/- this society was founded
on Judeo-Christian ethics
(which blur the distinction
\ between church and
Dr. Carl Cohen, philoso-
phy professor and director
Geoffrey Fieger
of Human Values in
Medicine at the U-M Med-
ical Center, also supported
What if a thief came in
) the right to assisted sui-
and demanded your keys
cide. He stressed, however,
that before society deter- • to the safe? Dr. Velleman
mines its stance on assist-
"You would be sorry you
ed suicide, it must decide
had the option because it
I its position on suicide.
made you the target of
"Are we categorically

• forbidden from taking our
"The question (about
lives?" he asked. "My
assisted suicide) is
belief is no. If suicide is
whether, in giving people
always wrong, then (one)



"...they (religious
zealots) believe
it's. God's will that
you suffer until
the end."

the right to die, I might
not be undermining (their
welfare) by putting them
in the position of taking an
option they might other-
wise not have been given,"
Dr. Velleman said.
Edward Goldman, attor-
ney for U-M's Medical
Center, said suicide is
legal in Michigan. He also
said he does not believe
"state prohibition of assist-
ed suicide is necessary.
"The current status is
that hospitals and doctors
make decisions on how
and when a patient's life
should end," he said.
Mr. Goldman empha-
sized the importance of a
strong doctor/patient rela-
tionship. He said a person
requesting medicide must
be unwavering in his
desire to die. Doctors must
have complete knowledge
of a patient's condition and
medical treatment options,
Mr. Goldman said, adding
that a strong peer review
system should be set up.
The debate was the first
of a year-long series on
medicide, sponsored by the
Detroit Chapter of the
American Jewish Commit-
tee. The AJC has no for-
mal position on the issue
but hopes to take a stance
after studying it during
the next year.
Last week's program,
held at the law school, was
co-sponsored by the
Jewish Law Students
Union. Judge Helene
White of the Michigan
Court of Appeals moderat-
"We think assisted sui-
cide is the civil rights issue
of the 1990s," said
Sharona Shapiro,
Michigan area director for
AJC. "We want to examine
the constitutionality and
the ethics of it. We want to
look at the issue from the
perspective of medical
ramifications and look at
our own Jewish teachings
and Jewish legal responsa
— traditional and contem-
porary." ❑

Pro-Israel Christian
To Speak Here May 4


Pastor. Rawson: "Don't convert."


ike any religious
leader, Pastor Ken-
neth Rawson would
like to see his congre-
gation flourish — not with
Jews, though.
The spiritual leader of
Bible Students Congrega-
tion of New Brunswick,
N.J., is against Christian
missionizing to Jews.
"Our message is: 'Do not
convert; do not assimilate;
cherish your heritage; sup-
port Israel.' The journey
has been too long and too
difficult to turn back,' "
Pastor Rawson said.
Pastor Rawson will
speak about his beliefs and
present a video titled
Israel: Appointment With
Destiny, at 8 p.m. May 4 at
Young Israel of Southfield.
The video, a 45-minute
presentation filmed in
Israel, has been shown at
synagogues and Jewish
federations across the
United States and in
Israel for three years.
Pastor Rawson is continu-
ally updating the film with
new material.
"This endeavor is a nat-
ural for me. Bible Stu-
dents Congregation has
been historically docu-
mented as pro-Zionist,
non-proselytizing," Pastor
Rawson said. "I am con-
cerned about the high level
of assimilation and anti-
Semitism and I feel this
message is urgent."

Bible Students Congre-
gation is non-denomina-
tional and worldwide. Its
distinguishing features are
a belief in non-proselytiz-
ing and the idea of one
God as opposed to the
Christian divinity of
"Father, Son and Holy
In addition to traveling
the country with his video
and message, Pastor
Rawson has waged an
active editorial campaign
against anti-Semitism,
anti-Israel propaganda
and Holocaust revisionism.
His congregation places
ads refuting such informa-
tion, and Pastor Rawson
often writes opinion pieces
for publications.
Israel: Appointment
With Destiny has been
translated into Russian
and is being shown in the
former Soviet Union with
the assistance of SHAMIR
— the Association of
Jewish Professionals from
the former Soviet Union in

Bible Students
Congregation has
been documented
as pro-Zionist.

"The Jews in the former
Soviet republics are espe-
cially vulnerable. We have
to help establish Jewish
roots there," Pastor
Rawson said.
Pastor Rawson and the
Bible Students Congrega-
tion now receive the sup-
port of Reform, Conser-
vative and Orthodox con-
gregations. However, he
met with resistance when
he first approached Jews
with his video and presen-
tation three years ago.
"There was a great deal
of skepticism at first — an
attitude of 'this is our
problem.' The reception is
good now."
The program May 4 is
open to the community. ❑






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