A bill authorising “passive euthanasia” is being studied by the Israeli Knesset. Neurologist Avraham Steinberg, who headed the interdisciplinary committee which studied the proposal, hopes that it will go through the first reading stage before elections. Interest in the bill has been heightened by the recent case of a paralysed and comatose terror attack victim whose parents asked doctors to shut off his respirator. However, the man woke up and asked to live.
The committee has made a number of novel proposals. Terminally ill patients who wish to die could ask for legally-binding “living wills” to be enforced. Respirators could have timers which turn themselves off automatically. A computerised database of living wills could be set up which would have to be renewed every five years.
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