- The right to die with dignity is regulated in accordance with the provisions of The Terminally Ill Patient Law, according to which (in specific cases) patients considered to be terminally ill may request that medical care not be given to them, and the medical staff is then obligated, according to limitations established in the law, to respect these wishes.
- The law treats minors differently than adults. A minor, according to the Terminally Ill Patient law is someone under the age of 17.
- The law does not consider a minor to be fit to make decisions regarding medical treatment for the terminally ill.
- Nonetheless, according to the law, there are specific circumstances when the minor's opinion must be heard, as well as circumstance when the minor's will must be fulfilled, even if it is in contradiction to the will of the parents or legal guardian.
Authority to Make a Decision in the Case of a Minor
- A minor's parents who are the legal guardians have the authority to represent their child with regard to medical treatment in terms of prolonging the child's life or refraining from doing so.
- A minor's guardian is someone considered to have a close familial or emotional relationship with the minor in the opinion of the "responsible physician" according to the Terminally Ill Patient Law, and the guardian is someone who is dedicated to the well-being of the minor and has known him/her for an extended and continuous period of time prior to the current treatment.
- If the parents' legal guardianship has been revoked, the patient does not have parents and a guardian has not been appointed, or the guardian is not considered to have a close familial or emotional relationship with the minor, an institutional committee will make a decision in the case.
Who is Eligible?
- A terminally ill minor is entitled to participate in the decision-making process regarding medical care if the following two conditions are met:
- The minor understands his/her condition and has requested to participate in the decision-making process.
- The attending physician has determined that the minor's mental and emotional states allow him/her to participate in the decision-making process.
How to Claim It?
- The attending physician will consult with the parents/guardian, the attending medical staff, relevant medical specialists, and the primary care physician, to the greatest extent possible.
- If the responsible physician is convinced that disclosing all or some of the relevant medical information to the patient will not harm the patient's physical or mental state, or endanger his/her life, the physician may determine that the patient is mentally and emotionally fit to properly understand the information and its significance.
- If there is a disagreement between the parents of the minor or between them and the attending physician regarding medical treatment, an institutional committee will make a decision in the case.
- If there is a disagreement between the minor and the parents, or between the minor and the attending physician:
- If the minor has expressed the desire for life-prolonging measures to be taken, the responsible physician must act in accordance with the minor's wishes.
- If a minor who is at least 15 years old has expressed the desire to refrain from having life-prolonging measures taken, an institutional committee will make a decision in the case.
- Detailed information regarding the actions and procedures that may be performed can be found in: The Right to Die with Dignity.
Laws and Regulations
- The Terminally Ill Patient Law
- The Terminally Ill Patient Regulations (Committees, Documents, Database and Reporting), 5768 - 2007
- Ministry of Health Director Circular 7/2008 from 17.03.2008 - Guidelines for implementation of the Terminally Ill Patient Law
- The Ministry of Health website: The Terminally Ill Patient Law
- English translation and maintenance by The Shira Pransky Project.