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YU News

Debate Team Discusses Medical Ethics

by Avraham Tsikhanovski ('16)

On Tuesday, November 19th, the Debate Team, led by Mrs Levitt, organized an interactive discussion on the topic of medical ethics. Euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide, has been a major point of controversy in the field of medical ethics for many years now. The upcoming novice debate that is hosted by the Heschel School, will examine that topic. It was of great help for the novice and even experienced debaters to hear a very interesting discussion on the Jewish view of euthanasia.

The evening began with a speaker from Yeshiva University's Medical Ethics Society (MES), Kalman Laufer. An MTA graduate in 2010, he is now he president of the MES. He started by saying that nowhere in the Torah is there an opinion that euthanasia is allowed, but added that there is a halachic distinction between passive euthanasia or active euthanasia. The rest of the presentation was about why that distinction is correct. As mentioned, the discussion was interactive, and Tsahi Halyo ('16) and Meir Barg ('16) contributed to it greatly in the form of a small debate with the speaker. At the end of the presentation, there was a surprised reaction from the audience when they heard that in some cases, the doctor can withhold the medicine, but he still has to give the basic necessities like food and water.

The last part of the meeting was devoted to two upcoming debate events. As mentioned earlier, MTA will be having a novice debate in the Heschel School. The second event is the highly anticipated Great Debate. The Great Debate is a gathering of many debate teams at MTA, and is considered to be the Super Bowl of debating. The resolution is going to be whether or not the US Government should stop collecting the digital records of its citizens without warrants. Tryouts were held, many good arguments were brought up, and the cross-examinations were as intense as ever. The evening ended with everyone having a clearer understanding of the Jewish view on euthanasia in particular, and the value of life in general.