It’s an oxymoron – mercy killing. If there is mercy – how can there be killing and if there is killing how can there be mercy. When a life & death question occurs – Torah Jews don’t rely on their own opinion. They consult a Torah versed Orthodox competent rabbi. They present the case – and he will provide the ethical answer according to the will of G-d. G-d gave us the Torah. In the Torah – it contains the reasoning to answer any ethical question.
Recently – a question of euthanasia arose – Could one disconnect a person from life support? I asked a competent rabbi. He said no – it is killing.
Once a person is on life support – usually one cannot disconnect them – if it is going to surely result in their death. Obviously each case is different and each must be asked to a competent Orthodox rabbi.
In dealing with such a situation – I learned of an organization that answers such end of life questions according to Torah Halacha / Jewish law. It is called Chaim Aruchim / Long Life.
They not only will provide answers but also intervene on the family’s behalf with the hospital to assure that the halacha is fulfilled.
Hospital’s “ethics” do not necessarily correspond with Torah law. Doctor’s mix their feelings and opinions into treating the patient. Once a Doctor was treating the husband of someone I know. He expressed how much time he expected the patient to live. She responded “You treat the patient. G-d will decide how long he will live.”
There are three things that must be provided by the hospital to the patient:
If they withdraw or refuse one of the above – it may be considered killing.
Things to avoid – Apnea test. It is a test to see if the patient’s brain is working. It is not necessarily accurate. In Torah law a person is alive as long as the heart is beating.
If one does pull the plug of a live person or gives the authorization against the disapproval of the halachic authorities – it may be considered killing according to Torah law.
Once a person was on life support. A doctor came by and felt badly for him. He unplugged him. The patient died. The man he killed came back to him in a dream and said “Why did you kill me? I had some more time to survive in this condition and my sins would have been atoned for on earth. Now he would suffer because he didn’t have that reparation in this world due to the Doctor’s precipitation of his death. Shaken, the Doctor did Teshuva / repented and it served as a merit for the patient he killed.
Suffering is not the worst thing in life. There are worse things – like living with out purpose and without doing good. The Torah provides the means to find purpose and maximize your doing good for yourself and others.