Consider the following two names for this complex topic. Most often, we will see it referred to as “doctor assisted suicide”. After many discussions and much study, I have come to call it “medically assisted dying.” There are those who suggested that the Jewish stance or the human, moral stance on this issue is clear. How could this be the case if we are not even certain what to call it?
The most important distinction is between suicide and dying. I believe our society needs to think more deeply about its use of the term suicide in general. I have had the sad responsibility to officiate at the funeral services of a number of people who “committed suicide”, though I have found this expression to be a misnomer. Most of these fine people in fact died of a terminal case of depression. Our immature social vocabulary around mental illness continues to plague those families touched by it. There is a moral poverty in a situation where families whose loved ones die of terminal physical illnesses receive care, sympathy and support while families whose loved ones die of terminal mental illnesses feel that they are the targets of judgement and shame.
Similarly, the cases that have come before the highest court in the land, of individuals