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 has special established rules if the terminally ill patient is a ward.
Who is a Ward?
- According to the Terminally Ill Patient Law a ward is someone who meets all of the following conditions:
- He/she is permanently incapable of managing his/her own affairs due to an intellectual disability or mental illness.
- He/she was in this state before being determined to be terminally ill.
- He/she does not have a valid living will or someone with valid power of attorney privileges which were given before the ward was determined to be terminally ill.
Who is Eligible?
- A terminally ill ward is entitled to participate in the decision-making process regarding medical care if the following two conditions are met:
- The ward understands his/her condition and has requested to participate in the decision-making process.
- The presiding physician has determined that the ward's mental and emotional states allow him/her to participate in the decision-making process. The physician's decision will only be given after consulting with the ward's guardian (if one has been appointed), and with the relevant physicians and medical specialists.
How to Claim It?
- The decision of whether or not to disclose information regarding a terminally ill ward's condition to him/her is subject to the guardian'sdiscretion. The law does not require a ward to be informed regarding the fact that he/she is terminally ill, nor all that this implies.
- If a ward has expressed the desire for life-prolonging measures to be taken, this wish takes precedence and must be fulfilled.
- If a ward has expressed the desire to refrain from having life-prolonging measures undertaken, 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.
Medical Treatment of a Ward Whose Will is Unknown
- It is sometimes impossible to know a terminally ill ward's will, or he/she is unable to express it.
- When there is agreement between the presiding physician and the guardian that treatment is to be continued and life-prolonging measures are to be taken, the responsible physician is to act accordingly.
- In all other cases, Institutional Committee for Decisions Regarding the Terminally Ill will decide.
- Among other considerations, the institutional committee will consider the welfare of the ward, and is permitted to determine that the medical staff should refrain from employing life-prolonging measures if it has been convinced that this would be for the good of the ward.
Laws and Regulations
- The Terminally Ill Patient Law
- The Terminally Ill Patient Regulations (Committees, Documents, Database and Reporting), 5768 - 2007
- Guidelines for implementing the Dying Patient Act Health Ministry Director-General Circular No. 7/2008 dated 17.03.2008
- The Ministry of Health website: Information Page Regarding the Terminally Ill Patient Law
- English translation and maintenance by The Shira Pransky Project.