Ultra-Orthodox group backs up NY law banning assisted suicide

Ultra-Orthodox group backs up NY law banning assisted suicide

Agudath Israel of America files amicus brief in euthanasia lawsuit by terminally ill patients and their doctors

Illustrative photo of a doctor and patient. (kzenon/istockphoto)
Illustrative photo of a doctor and patient. (kzenon/istockphoto)

NEW YORK — A US ultra-Orthodox Jewish group has filed a brief on behalf of a New York state law banning assisted suicide that is being challenged in the state’s highest court.

Agudath Israel of America filed its amicus brief in the case of Myers v. Schneiderman, where arguments in the Court of Appeals are set to be heard starting May 30.

The organization End of Life Choices New York, its clinical director, three terminally ill patients and four doctors are suing for the right of doctors to provide medication to mentally competent, terminally ill patients who wish to die. The lead plaintiff, Sara Myers, died in 2016 following a six-year battle with ALS.

Agudah in its brief cited cases it had dealt with through its Chayim Aruchim project, which deals with end-of-life issues.

“In a very significant number of cases, the health care facilities have simply refused to provide the treatment the patient or his health care proxy requested, claiming that the patient’s “quality of life” is so diminished that there is no point in pursuing treatment,” the brief states, according to a report this week in the Yeshiva World News.

“In our experience, health care facilities have withdrawn nutrition, hydration, medication, and other forms of life support from patients even over the adamant objections of the health-care decision-makers for the patient, and against the explicit wishes of the patient as stated in the patient’s advanced health care directive.”

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