Rabbi Says Euthanasia Banned

Mercy-killing (euthanasia) is forbidden by Jewish law under any circumstances, Rabbi Simha Hacohen Kook, rabbi of Rehovot, told delegates to the oral law conference (Tora Shebaal Peh Conference) here this week.

The conference is an annual event held at the Rav Kook Institute here. The Rehovot rabbi is a great-grandson of the first Rav Kook whose name the institute bears. This year’s conference is on halacha and medical problems. Rabbi Kook said the ban applied even when the patient was suffering terribly and there was no hope whatever for saving him.

Haifa’s newly elected Sephardic Chief Rabbi. Eliahu Bakshi-Doron, considered the question of plastic surgery performed for cosmetic purposes. He said that if the patient had a noticeable physical disability which obviously caused him grief and anxiety, then it would be permitted to undertake cosmetic surgery to remove or minimize it.

But cosmetic operations were prohibited when they were undertaken solely for beautification purposes when no glaring flaw in the patient’s appearance was noticeable. In such cases the operation would be considered by the halacha an unnecessary wound–and therefore unlawful. This applied even if the patient wanted the operation. Rabbi Bakshi-Doron said.

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