Shefer v. State of Israel
Israel. Supreme Court
No. CA 506/88. In: Davidson, Jonathan (ed.) Israel Law Reports, 1992-1994. Jerusalem: Nevo Press, 2002. (Also available at: www.court.gov.il)
The Supreme Court of Israel, sitting as a Court of Appeal, denied the 1988 appeal by the parent of a terminally ill child to be allowed to withhold treatment. The mother of two-year-old Yael Shefer sought to withhold all treatment, except for pain relief, from her daughter. Yael suffered from Tay-Sachs disease, an incurable genetic disease, and was in a persistent vegetative state. The District Court refused her application, and the Supreme Court denied her appeal from that decision. Yael died at age 3. In a lengthy 1993 opinion, the Court gave the reasons for the 1988 decision. The Court, viewing the case as a matter involving human life, the human body, and human dignity, based its decision on the principle of the sanctity of life. Because Yael was not suffering as a consequence of her terminal illness, any intervention to shorten her life would not be allowed. The Court discusses the right of a patient to refuse medical treatment and the right of a parent to refuse medical treatment for a child. The cornerstone for the Court's decision are the values in Israel's Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, that country's equivalent of the United States Constitution. The Court resolved any conflicts between life and dignity, which includes liberty and autonomy as well as confidentiality and privacy, in accord with the values of Jewish law first and the values of a democratic state second.
Date of Decision: 24 November 1993
Autonomy; Confidentiality; Disease; Human Body; Human Dignity; Law; Life; Pain; Persistent Vegetative State; Privacy; Suffering; Sanctity Of Life; Terminally Ill; Values; Religious Ethics; Genetics, Molecular Biology and Microbiology; Allowing Minors to Die; Minors / Parental Consent; Right to Refuse Treatment;
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