Orthodox doctors wrestle with ethics of ‘assisted suicide’

The Canadian Jewish News

Barbara Silverstein

Dr. Albert Kirshen said it’s just a matter of time before one of his patients asks him for assistance to die. Kirshen, an observant Jew who is a physician at the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Hospital, said he is bracing himself for the inevitable.

Kirshen is “personally conflicted” and struggling with the new Supreme Court-mandated policy that will permit physician-assisted death (PAD), he said, explaining that while the medical college will require him to accommodate a patient’s request to die, Jewish law does not permit him to make a referral for the termination of a life.

Kirshen spoke to the issue at a town hall meeting on “the implications of the proposed federal assisted suicide legislation on the practice of medicine,” held March 7 at Shaarei Shomayim Congregation in Toronto. About 300 people, many of them physicians, packed the shul’s social hall to learn more about the issue from an Orthodox perspective that reflected the views of rabbis, physicians and a legal expert. . . [Full text]