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Court Upholds Woman’s Right Not to Cut off Gangrenous Leg

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Ruth Trabelsi, 84, will be granted her wish to enter heaven on two feet.

The Nazareth District Court ruled Thursday that the Tunisian-born great-grandmother from Tiberias has the right to refuse surgery to amputate a gangrene leg.

Doctors at Poriya Hospital in Tiberias say that without amputation, she will die a speedy, painful death.

The courts became involved when the hospital took legal action to prevent the patient from committing “passive suicide.”

Trabelsi, a deeply religious, Arabic-speaking woman with 258 living children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, refused to sign a waiver authorizing surgery.

Judge Oded Gershon, whose Nazareth court has jurisdiction in Tiberias, ruled against an appeal by the state attorney.

He reached his decision after a psychiatrist and a geriatrics expert found that Trabelsi was sane, lucid and understood fully the probable consequences of failure to have her limb amputated.

Judge Gershon’s ruling is considered a landmark decision. The so-called “right-to-die case” generated intense debate in Israel, which split opinions mostly along religious and secular lines.

The Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, Yisrael Law, insisted that according to halachah, sick persons have no right to prevent their cure.

Trabelsi was quoted as telling family members at her bedside, “I wish to enter the Garden of Eden with both feet.”

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