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Medicine and Morals

Medicine and Morals

Medicine and Morals:

Your Jewish Guide Through Life's Tough Decisions

October 2010

- A man wonders if his dying father should remain on life support.
What would you do?

 - A parent wonders if they should tell their child he has a potentially serious genetic disorder.
What would you do?

 - A woman wonders if she’s morally obligated to give a kidney to her cousin who has to undergo dialysis daily.
What would you do?

Chances are, like most people, you don’t know what you would do — or even where you would turn for guidance. But with medicine’s increasing role in our lives, most of us will have to face such issues at some point or another.

That’s why you’ll want to know about a remarkable new course called Medicine and Morals: Your Jewish Guide through Life’s Tough Decisions. It’s based on two premises: (1) that Jewish wisdom has much to say about these matters; and (2) that the best time to deal with them is now, while the pressure is off.

Actually, there’s a third premise: that today's complex medical issues are fascinating, profound, and likely to kick up amazingly lively classroom discussion.

No easy questions. No easy answers. Medicine and Morals, is your chance to get real with the subject of medical ethics —discuss actual case histories, and get a sense of direction to weather the toughest challenges you’ll ever face.

Medicine and Morals: Your Jewish Guide through Life’s Tough Decisions, coming this October to your local JLI chapter.

REGISTER HERE
JLI_Logo1.jpg 
Instructor: Rabbi Moishe Traxler 
Dates: 6 Sundays | Starts Oct 24, 2010 
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 am
Location:
Chabad Outreach
Fee: $99 (includes textbook and materials) 

Instuctor: Rabbi Dovid Goldstein
Dates: 6 Mondays | Starts Oct 25, 2010
Time: 7:30 - 9:00pm
Location: CHAI Learning Center
Fee: $99 (includes textbook and materials)

Instructor: Rabbi Moishe Traxler 
Dates: 6 Tuesdays | Starts Oct 26, 2010 
Time: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Location:
Chabad Outreach
Fee: $99 (includes textbook and materials)

Instructor: Rabbi Moishe Traxler 
Dates: 6 Tuesdays | Starts Oct 26, 2010 
Time: 7:30 – 9:30 pm
Location:
Galleria Area
Fee: $99 (includes textbook and materials)

Instructor: Rabbi Yitzchok Schmukler
Dates: 6 Wednesdays | Starts Oct 27, 2010 
Time: 7:30 – 9:30 pm
Location:
Rice University area
Fee: $99 (includes textbook and materials)

 REGISTER HERE

 

Lesson 1
Choices, Choices: The Ethics of Patient Autonomy
The modern medical age offers hope for many dire medical situations, but does so at a price. As medical intervention increases, quality of life often decreases. This lesson examines Jewish perspectives on pursuing medical care, as well as declining it. Is it ever acceptable, or even preferable, to sim ply rely on faith, prayer, and one’s own resources? How does Judaism justify medical intervention? And is it an obligation or a choice? May other family members force us to seek treatment that we do not want? Do our personal preferences and values hold any weight? And does the same hold true for children? This lesson examines the ethics of issues involving patient auton omy within the modern health care system.

Lesson 2
Becoming a Parent: The Ethics of Assisted Reproduction
Many couples struggle with infertility. In their efforts to bear a child, they are often cast into the complicated ethical web of the new reproductive technologies, many of which call into question the very definition of parent. In the age of sperm donation, egg donation, and surrogacy, can a child have more than two parents? How is Jewishness determined? How does Juda ism look at “designer babies?” Can we pre-select the gender of the child to match parent preferences or to prevent genetic illnesses? How far must one go in the quest for biological children, and what recourse is there for those who are unable to bear children of their own?

Lesson 3
I Have a Secret: The Ethics of Confidentiality
A basic presumption of modern medical practice is that patients have a right for their medical history to be kept confidential unless they explicitly waive those rights (such as in allowing records to be reviewed by an insurance company). What happens, however, when those records contain infor mation that might impact other family members? May a man hosting an incurable communicable disease withhold that information from his wife? Does a woman willing to donate a kidney to a man she presumes to be her father have the right to know that in fact, he is not related to her at all? Do children have the right to know they are carriers of a particular disease, or may the parent keep that information private? This lesson looks at some ways of balancing the harm to the individual whose privacy is invaded against the need to provide family members with vital health information.

Lesson 4
All Kinds of Minds: Mental Difference in Jewish Tradition
The mentally ill have often been viewed in society as possessed by the devil, or otherwise evil. Jewish law, however, has long recognized this as a dis ease, and acknowledges both the limitations of responsibility that this state imposes, as well as the essential humanity of the mentally ill. Jewish law recognizes that there may well be islands of ability at the same time that limitations exist. It encourages the maximum participation possible of those with mental illnesses, while outlining the role the community must play in protecting their interests. The lesson also considers the integration of indi viduals who may suffer from mental retardation, and the value of engaging them actively in Jewish life.

Lesson 5
The Gift of Life: The Ethics of Organ Donation
Hundreds of thousands of people find their lives hanging in the balance as they hope for the gift of life in the form of a vital organ such as a heart, lung, or kidney. By receiving an organ, they are literally given a new leaf on life. Yet there is a tremendous shortage of available organs. Does Jewish law allow the donation of organs, either from a live donor or one who is recently deceased? Might it go further, actively encouraging or even mor ally compelling one to donate under certain circumstances? Conversely, if our bodies are not our own, do we even have the authority to give a body part away? This lesson provides a nuanced and compassionate look at the sensitive ethical issues governing organ donation.

Lesson 6
Rolling the Dice: The Ethics of Medical Experimentation
Often, people with rare or incurable illnesses consider untested experimen tal treatment, gambling that they will be cured. May one participate in an experimental treatment with no guarantee of success that also has the dan ger of shortening life? Can we define the allowable odds? Does it matter that participating in this experimental treatment will provide important knowl edge that will be helpful in curing others? The lesson considers other ethical issues related to experimentation such as the ethics of stem cell research.

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