Pulling the Plug

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Pulling The Plug

Through G-d’s work, the world we live in was created both spiritually and physically. However, it is very possible to intertwine the two in many different ways, even though they are completely separate entities. Regarding committing an act of murder, it is explicitly stated in the Ten Commandments not to murder, as well as being one of the three prohibitions that cannot be perpetrated even if one is being forced to commit the action via their own life being laid on the line. To be more specific, does the term “murder” pop up when one is dealing with a case concerning pulling the plug on a loved one?

Nowadays, with advanced medicine and a high standard of living, the human race has pushed death to the outer reaches of our consciousness, and we are caught completely off guard when death arrives abruptly. When certain life threatening illnesses occur, such as comatose, the option of life support becomes available to the patient in need of it. Life support is the maintenance of the vital functions of a critically ill or comatose person or a person undergoing surgery. In most cases when life support is in use, the patient is suffering and lives in a vegetative state for an unknown amount of time. Doctors are able to do tests that enable them to know if life support will bring the person back to life, or if it will not. This causes the famous question to rise: Should the plug be pulled?

With the knowledge of the test results, doctors make it a clear-cut case. They present the facts to patient’s families and advise them accordingly. The families usually listen to the doctors’ recommendation even when the suggestion is to pull the plug. This is because it costs a tremendous amount of money to keep their loved one alive, and the suffering the patient is enduring becomes pointless if there is no hope in the patient ever regaining consciousness and ultimately coming back to life. However, when it comes to Jewish medical ethics, there is an endless...
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