Russian chief rabbi slams court ruling on organ harvesting
search

Russian chief rabbi slams court ruling on organ harvesting

Judges ruled that authorities are allowed to take organs from cadavers by default

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar in the Jewish Museum in Moscow, on June 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar in the Jewish Museum in Moscow, on June 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Berel Lazar, a chief rabbi of Russia, has protested a recent high court ruling that by default allows medical authorities to harvest organs from cadavers.

The March 9 ruling by Russia’s Constitutional Court was on a motion by relatives who opposed the harvesting without notice of organs from the bodies of their loved ones, the news site www.jewish.ru last week reported. The ruling states that relatives opposed to this custom must alert medical authorities ahead of their loved ones’ demise of their objection to the practice. In all other cases, cadavers are to be harvested for organs immediately after death.

“We understand the need for organs for transplants,” Lazar wrote in a March 11 statement explaining his unusually strong-worded objection to the ruling. “But it is unthinkable to take them from a person against the will of their family and loved ones!” Separately, Christian faith leaders also protested the ruling.

Lazar added he hoped that “ultimately, the government will demonstrate necessary flexibility and respect the rights of the believers.”

The harvesting of organs from cadavers is a sensitive issue in Judaism. While generally permitted by halacha under the principle of the sanctity of life and the need to save it when possible, it is subject to strict limitations, compliant with principles of the integrity of bodies at burial.

In his statement, Lazar stressed his support for transplants authorized by relatives or prior to death. But, to illustrate the issue’s sensitivity, he also wrote that, in Israel, burial societies treating terrorist victims go to the trouble of “even collecting blood that was shed on the ground” for burial.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments