Monday, November 23, 2009

Israeli Medical Association vs. Health minister


The Israel Medical Association has denounced Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman for ordering doctors at Schneider Children's Medical Center to treat a lower-brain-dead baby girl like an ordinary living patient and give her antibiotics and other treatment, rather than only keeping her connected to a respirator.

Litzman visited the Petah Tikva hospital three days in a row to make sure that his orders, issued at the request of the baby's haredi parents late last week - were being followed.

A few weeks ago, Litzman said he "does not recognize lower-brain death" as death, but "observes the law."

Under the law, the immediate family of a lower-brain-dead patient can insist that he or she not be disconnected from a respirator or have nourishment withheld, but the patient is not treated like a living person who needs treatment. Otherwise, the default procedure is to turn off the respirator after a two-doctor team decides the patient is brain dead.


  1. Litzman started with such promise it's a shame he's descended to this.

    Observes the law? Which law? Ah, halacha. Okay, which halacha? One particular interpretation of it. The one given by Rav Eliashiv. Fine, but there are other, equally authoritative psaks on the subject, one of which became the basis for the current Israeli law on pronouncing death.

    If this report is accurate, then Minister Litzman is ignoring Israeli law and stating that other rabbonim are of no importance to him. He's going to run the health ministry according to one posek's opinion and the rest be damned.

  2. From the very little I understand re the parameters of this issue, disconnecting extant life support systems may be assur, but there should be no problem with withholding affirmative treatment. If this is in fact the halacha as applicable to this scenario, then what Litzman is doing seems extremely problematic.

  3. Litzman has now become a lawmaker and posek. Unfortunately his distorted version of the Shulchan Aruch does more for brain dead patients than for living victims of molesting and rape. He continues to shield Avrohom Mondrowitz from extradition to the US for raping boys in Boro Park. According to Rav Shmuel Kamanetsky, Mondrowitz’s Toeivah caused several suicides and we are mechuyav to bring him back for trial. He also finds time to get other molesters out of jail even when the expert evaluators have concluded they are likely to molest again. His method for springing them is changing the official reports about likelihood of molesting. If the question of medical care for the brain dead is to be raised it should be premised on more reliable sources than Yaacov Litzman.

  4. I remember few years back a gentile couple had a brain dead child in one of New York Jewish hospital (I do not remember which), the hospital refused to keep the child alive so the couple had to move their child to St. Vincent which was willing to keep the child alive.

  5. When I became pregnant with my first child, several other parents and two community Rabbis told us to go to a Catholic hospital instead of any of the NY "Jewish" hospitals if we wanted halachic concerns respected.

  6. Monsey, it's impossible to refuse to keep a brain dead child "alive". You can refuse to keep oxygenated blood circulating through their body, though.


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