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Comments: 582 + -   In Israel, Potential Organ Donors Could Jump the Queue on Monday March 15, @02:08AM

Posted by timothy on Monday March 15, @02:08AM
from the unorthodox-move dept.
laron writes "In Israel, a new law is in the making: Holders of donor cards and their families would get preference if they should need an organ for themselves. Apparently this initiative faces resistance from Orthodox rabbis, who hold that organ donation is against religious law. Jacob Lavee, director of the heart transplant unit at Israel's Sheba Medical Center, and one of the draftees of this new law, hopes that a broader pool of organs will ultimately benefit everyone, but acknowledges that one of his primary motivations is 'to prevent free riders.' (Apparently receiving an organ is OK under religious law.)"

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  • by goffster (1104287) on Monday March 15, @02:10AM (#31478574)

    can go to the end of the line

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MrDoh! (71235)

      Mmm, Bacon.

    • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Monday March 15, @03:24AM (#31478836)
      I realize you meant that as a joke, but in case anyone was curious it is okay under Jewish law (as interpreted by most Jews, reform conservative and most orthodox) to receive something along those lines. For the most part, if it's for medical purposes, pork is fine. Saving a life takes precedence here.
        • by ars (79600) <> on Monday March 15, @04:52AM (#31479274) Homepage

          Jews do not believe it's wrong to donate. What they believe is that, as long as a persons heart is beating they are alive.

          Meaning: They believe it's wrong to murder someone to harvest organs.

          Others believe that after brain death the person is dead, and it's not murder.

          The argument is not over organ donation, which even the strictest rabbi agrees with.

          The argument is over the definition of death, since most organ donation are done after brain, but not cardiac, death.

          • by John Guilt (464909) on Monday March 15, @07:49AM (#31480322)
            Breath animated Adam; the word for the human-level spirit 'ruakh' (as opposed to the animal and divine spirits) is related to breath, air, or wind, like the Sanskrit 'atman', cognate to the Greek 'atmos'. Basically, you become an human being when you first draw breath. And it used to be a lot easier to tell when someone had stopped breathing than when their heart had stopped beating, especially in a body-taboo--rich, culture.
          • Judaism is actually a very well reasoned religion

            Meaning: they are used to making up excuses for their irrational dogmas.

            As I understand it ... man is created in God's image, therefore is as close to perfection as you can already make it

            Cute. Except they make an exception for that one bit that's your most sensitive erogenous zone. And rabbis dare call that bit an imperfection. And even deny the pain that the procedure to "fix it" leads to pain and negative side effects, or even pretend these are a good thing.

            See a dogma, see a contradiction, make up absolute bullshit to keep dogma. Is this "reasoned"? Come on. Judaism is every bit as irrational and retarded as every other religion - but ESPECIALLY retarded for that one dogma, one so insane that it makes my blood boil in rage. If I sound disrespectful, you got it right. I abhor religion in principle, but those that promote genital mutilation, I regard as nothing but evil.

  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Slack0ff (590042) <matbrady@bore d . c om> on Monday March 15, @02:11AM (#31478582)
    It's always a tough call when you're talking about life and death and major elective surgeries. But I find myself thinking this is a good thing, that makes sense?
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Monday March 15, @04:32AM (#31479198)

      You will notice that no sensible Jew asks a doc not to perform an emergency operation during Shabbat. Saving a life trumps religious doctrines. Even according to the religious law.

      Shabbat is supposed to make you relax and reflect, it's not supposed to let you die on purpose if you happen to get sick untimely. The whole crap about "God's will" somehow didn't make it into the faith system 'til some nutjobs took it into their hands.

      You'll also notice that it's ok for Muslim to interrupt important things like Ramadan in case they get sick, it's quite ok to drink and even eat during the day when you're dehydrated and your body needs it for survival. Like Shabbat, Ramadan is supposed to make you think and reflect, to realize just how good you got it. It's not supposed to torture you for some holy reason.

      Religions originally did actually make a lot of sense. It wasn't 'til the whackos and nutcases took control of it and turned it into a tool of oppression. Granted, that happened quite quickly after their founders croaked, but I'm pretty sure if Jesus, Mohammed or ... well, whoever wrote the Pentateuch could see what became of their work, they'd be quite pissed at their successors.

        • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417) on Monday March 15, @05:03AM (#31479342)

          Religion can actually serve a valuable purpose, especially in primitive cultures. They offer a focal point and a sense of belonging in large groups. The human nature does not allow a sensible cooperation in groups larger than twenty people. Sure, culture and "civilisation" eventually gave us a way to do it, we are today quite able to cooperate with people that do not belong to our "family and friends" group, simply because we learned to do that. Also, we have other structures built that allow us to identify "our" group, from nations to sports team colors.

          Basically religions served a sociologic purpose for early human. When you lack the technology to enforce even the most basic laws (like, say, don't kill your neighbor just 'cause he has the grub you want and you don't feel like going around the corner to the market...), you need some all-seeing all-powerful entity to keep your people in check. Sure, it won't keep everyone in line, but maybe at least a number of the guy won't go at each other's throat for a few handful of rice.

          So yes, religion isn't really a necessity anymore. We can easily replace it with technology. But it did have its place in the history of humanity, and it was quite important in forming our ability to cooperate in larger groups.

          • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Insightful)

            by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday March 15, @08:48AM (#31480670)

            I completely disagree with you here. What I think you're saying is that religion makes people obey the law; or something along these lines.

            That's simply not true. Most people in this world are naturally good people and want to do good deeds regardless of what they do or do not believe.

  • by OrwellianLurker (1739950) on Monday March 15, @02:17AM (#31478600)
    I've been an organ donor since I got my license when I was sixteen. I never really considered that people who WERE NOT organ donors would receive the same treatment in regards to their placement on the the list of people in need of an organ transplant. Total bullshit.
      • by Third Position (1725934) on Monday March 15, @04:28AM (#31479162) Homepage

        Organs are huge $$$ you never know if doctors would be less willing to try and save your ass from dieing by prematurely transitioning into organ harvesting mode. (Brrraaaiinnnnsssss!!)

        Yes. Which is particularly salient since we're talking about Israel. []

            • by Cidolfas (1358603) on Monday March 15, @06:06AM (#31479726)
              I know 3 MDs, about a dozen med students in various years, and way too many pre-med undergrads. All of them would be stuck livid at the notion that they would purposefully let a patient go so they could harvest the organs to save another. It's jut not in their mindset - they might not be super jaded yet, but they try to save anybody, anytime. That's how they're wired.
            • by priegog (1291820) on Monday March 15, @06:11AM (#31479744)
              I don't know whether the laws over there (I'm european) are so screwed up that doctors would actually get to choose wheter to harvest someone's organs or not, but I really hope you've got it all completely wrong. In my country, the law says that EVERYONE is an organ donor unless you actively opt-out. Families do get to refuse, I think. But the point is no doctors' god complex will have ANYTHING to do with it (I'm a doctor BTW, you insensitive clod!). And even on the RARE cases that fall in a legal grey area, the hospital's ethics commitee will be summoned to discuss the matter and come up with the best possible solution for all parties involved. I don't know wether there a single doctor has the legal power to make such decisions (and if they do, wether they actually use that power), but that kind of worries me. Needless to say, with everyone being a potential donor, we aren't nearly as organ-lacking over here are you seem to be over there. By the way, the organs waiting list system over here IS strictly rational, taking into consideration every possible little thing you could ever think of. So when a person who drank his way up to almost death get a new liver, you can be absolutely sure that he didn't deprive a "more deserving" person of a liver. Again, this might also be possible due to there being more organs available.
            • by demonlapin (527802) on Monday March 15, @07:06AM (#31480090) Homepage Journal
              You know, if transplant surgeons took trauma cases, and all organs were universally compatible, and physicians liked getting sued, that might bear some tiny resemblance to an actual moral dilemma. But none of those is the case.
  • crazy hypocrites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Monday March 15, @02:18AM (#31478606) Homepage Journal
    That position sounds so insane, that I thought that there must be more to it than that, but no, it really is that hypocritical. Check out this quote from the article:

    "If I can't contribute organs because of my religious beliefs, the state shouldn't be allowed to harm me,"

    Seriously? This is the kind of stuff Jesus was criticizing in the bible: he tried to show that loving each other and helping each other out is more important than following the law to exactness. Fortunately it is a minority that feel this way, most of the rabbis in Israel are more sane (according to the article).

    • Re:crazy hypocrites (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tom90deg (1190691) on Monday March 15, @02:47AM (#31478714) Homepage

      It's always very difficult when religion and medicine clash. If you're a doctor, chances are good that at some point, someone will refuse treatment because of their religious beliefs. Most of the time it's "Whatever, you'll be in pain for the next two weeks, but that's your choice." but it's gets much much harder if say, a little girl is brought in with a fever that's getting worse. "No problem, give her some basic meds, and she'll be good to go." you'd think, and then her parents show up and say, "You can't give her any medication." And you know that without it, the girl WILL die, or at best have severe brain damage. Try to explain this to the parents, and they just say, "It's our beliefs, no medicine can be given." And legally, you can't do anything, and if you DO give the girl medicaiton and save her life, you can and will be sued for malpractice.

      I don't mind religion, so long as it doesn't harm anyone, but people who would actually think, "We would rather our child die then be given medicine." I just don't understand.

      • Re:crazy hypocrites (Score:5, Interesting)

        by demonlapin (527802) on Monday March 15, @07:13AM (#31480124) Homepage Journal
        If it's a life-saving procedure on a minor, you can very easily do something about it legally. Have the hospital lawyers get a court order. We do it for Jehovah's Witnesses' children and blood on a reasonably frequent basis.
      • Re:crazy hypocrites (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Rich0 (548339) on Monday March 15, @12:13PM (#31483042) Homepage

        First, I agree with you, but I'll go ahead and toss something really controversial and maybe burn some karma:

        How is a society that allows children to die from parental withholding of medication any different than a society that allows children to grow up into a life of crime, or poverty, or obesity, or any number of other things that can happen to kids because they don't have great parents?

        Withholding of medicine is an easy target, but the fact is that society is quite content to let kids fail in numerous ways simply for being born to the wrong parents. The problem is that fixing this is EXTREMELY difficult if not impossible - it isn't just a matter of throwing a moderate amount of money at the problem. Avoiding the problem is also highly repugnant to most people since the only way to avoid it is to mandate contraception implants for everybody unless you have a breeding license, or abort children post-conception (and figure out what to do with kids that manage to survive past birth).

        In reality, the odd kid that dies from treatable pneumonia makes the news but is a blip in the statistics. The real problem (size-wise) is the millions of kids who go on to live in slums or prisons. As a society we seem to be willing to accept a LOT of the latter but none of the former, and I'm not sure it really has anything to do with being genuinely interested in child welfare.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is the kind of stuff Jesus was criticizing in the bible

      Jesus is not high on the orthodox required reading list.

      Hah!!! captcha = ducked

      • Re:crazy hypocrites (Score:5, Interesting)

        by story645 (1278106) <> on Monday March 15, @02:41AM (#31478682) Journal

        oppressing women

        The funny thing about the far right Jews is that most of the guys are in some form of learning program, so the women are often the primary breadwinners. This leads to the average Jewish woman on the far right having more education and job training than her husband.

        • Re:crazy hypocrites (Score:4, Informative)

          by Animats (122034) on Monday March 15, @12:55PM (#31483692) Homepage

          The funny thing about the far right Jews is that most of the guys are in some form of learning program, so the women are often the primary breadwinners. This leads to the average Jewish woman on the far right having more education and job training than her husband.

          In the US, that's true. In Israel, the ultra-orthodox have Government subsidies. []. There are American Jews who think this is a disaster for Israel. "In Israel today, two-thirds of ultra-Orthodox men spend their days studying the Torah and Talmud and do not participate in the workforce. Their unemployment is subsidized by the state to the tune of about $1.3 billion a year. There is nothing inherent in ultra-Orthodox religious tenets that keeps believers from working: In countries such as Britain and the United States, ultra-Orthodox families do work because they know that they can't depend on outlays from the state. Israel must adopt similar rules if it wants a first-class economy."

          Saudi Arabia has dug itself into a similar hole, with a huge number of state-subsidized religious figures, but they have oil money.

      • by Ihmhi (1206036) <> on Monday March 15, @03:34AM (#31478874)

        They even have similar looking leaders - old guys with long beards wearing black.

        And of course, they have formed a coalition to control the world through the sound of awesome rock music, otherwise known as ZZ Top.

  • awesome (Score:4, Interesting)

    by story645 (1278106) <> on Monday March 15, @02:24AM (#31478622) Journal

    Maybe this will open up more discussion of the religious permissibility of organ donations, which is a topic that's nowhere near as black and white as some people make it out to be. Plenty of orthodox rabbis also say donating is permissible (as far as I've heard from members of the New York ultra-orthodox contingent) in a lot of circumstances, but their voices seem to get drowned out far too often. I'd love to see some real discussion of the topic, so while yeah the measure is radical, it's also kind of brilliant. It's also an interesting approach to tackling the religious/secular divide in Israel, which makes the American one look downright friendly.

  • Sounds fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Monday March 15, @02:36AM (#31478668)
    I may be missing something, and feel free to tell me. But I have no problem with donors being higher on the list. It makes sense to reward altruism in society and this certainly fits the bill. Sure some religions might interject, but just like organ donation religious practices are a choice and like every choice they carry consequences. That's not to say non-donors shouldn't get organs, but they should not be the priority.
      • Re:Sounds fair (Score:5, Insightful)

        by laron (102608) on Monday March 15, @03:29AM (#31478858)

        I'd be wary of that. There are a lot of people who can't donate blood for many reasons and I wouldn't like to put them at a disadvantage.

        If you have to take heavy medication that makes your organs unsuitable for example, it shouldn't affect your priority to receive organs. It would turn your consent to donate into an empty formality of course.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by EnglishTim (9662)

        There's a sufficiently large section of the population that cannot give blood that such a suggestion would be unworkable.

        • Re:Sounds fair (Score:5, Interesting)

          by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday March 15, @03:44AM (#31478922)

          Sounds great to me. I'd extend it to blood donors, with quantity donated moving you further up.

          I'd support this, provided we eliminated the discrimination present in various countries' blood donation rules. It's still legal for groups such as the Red Cross to discriminate against homosexuals, reinforcing the view of risk-taking sexual behaviour being prevalent only in the homosexual community, and not the populus at large.

          This is just silly. My wife was a floor nurse for many years. She had a needle stick while taking care of an AIDS patient in the early 1980s, and has been excluded from giving blood ever since. Why on earth should someone like her should be lower in the queue than some blowhard from Slashdot? Have you ever taken care of people dying from a yet-little-understood disease?

      • Re:Sounds fair (Score:4, Informative)

        by Bartab (233395) on Monday March 15, @05:49AM (#31479616)

        Two points:

        1) Cancers are almost never 'cured' by transplantation. If your organ is failing due to a cancer, be prepared to die regardless of the reason for the cancer. This is largely because the new organ would almost certainly also be a loss.

        2) At least in the US, Children are already at the top of the list.

  • by rm999 (775449) on Monday March 15, @02:40AM (#31478676)

    Instead of 2 choices (donor or non-donor), how about a third category: donor with preference to other donors. This takes the decision away from the government and to the owner of the organs.

    I'm sure some people would be willing to donate to anyone, but the majority would choose the new third option.

  • by miasmatic (740281) on Monday March 15, @02:41AM (#31478684)
    Organ donation is NOT always against Jewish law (Halacha). In fact there is almost always a way that it is totally fine and even further, there are interpretations that suggest that not being an organ donor is a violation of Halacha! Please see [] for a very good observant Jewish organization that seeks to make more orthodox Jews organ donors.
  • by davidl71 (1767514) on Monday March 15, @02:43AM (#31478696)
    Most Orthodox Rabbis are not against organ transplants. They disagree about the determination of death. []
  • That's a good idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday March 15, @02:43AM (#31478698)

    Why should you get a organ from someone who just died if you aren't willing to give the same if you die?

    Except for the group of people who have something that means they aren't candidates for organ donations but are candidates for organ transplant (I don't know if there is such a pair, but you don't take organs from people with aids or numerous other illnesses) - they are going to get the short end of the stick. Though it's a simple exception to add.

  • Seems fine... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Entropius (188861) on Monday March 15, @02:47AM (#31478712)

    Normal rules of ethics dictate that the commons should be more willing to help someone out if they're willing to donate to the commons too. This is related to the idea behind the GPL. If you have two friends who are short a buck for lunch, you're more likely to give your only dollar to the one who's more likely to spot you when you come up short.

    Just because organ donation is a matter of life and death doesn't mean that it plays by any different rules than "ordinary" ethics -- it just means the stakes for getting it right are that much higher. The commons should encourage people to contribute /to/ the commons, thereby enriching everyone, and rules like this are just one way to do it.

    And this sort of ethics is independent of anyone's primitive superstitions. Superstitions are fine -- believe whatever you want -- but don't expect reality to change to suit them.

  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Monday March 15, @05:36AM (#31479532)
    There was a story a couple months ago [] about a bunch of cyclists in Brooklyn who tried to repaint some bike lanes there. The city had sandblasted them away at the request of Hasidic Jews who complained that bike lanes attracted female cyclists with huge boobies.

    Groups of bicycle-riding vigilantes have been repainting 14 blocks of Williamsburg roadways ever since the city sandblasted their bike lanes away last week at the request of the Hasidic community.

    The Hasids, who have long had a huge enclave in the now-artist-haven neighborhood, had complained that the Bedford Avenue bike paths posed both a safety and religious hazard.

    Scantily clad hipster cyclists attracted to the Brooklyn neighborhood made it difficult, the Hasids said, to obey religious laws forbidding them from staring at members of the opposite sex in various states of undress. These riders also were disobeying the traffic laws, they complained.

    Two cycling advocates were apprehended by the Shomrim Patrol, a Hasidic neighborhood watch group, as they repainted a section of bike lane at 3:30 a.m. yesterday, but when cops arrived, no one was arrested and no summonses were issued, police said.

    "These people should apply for a job at the DOT," neighborhood activist Isaac Abraham said of the repainting. "You put it on, they take it off -- and they will probably do this again."

    A Department of Transportation spokesman said: "We will continue to work with any community on ways we can make changes to our streets without compromising safety."

    A source close to Mayor Bloomberg said removing the lanes was an effort to appease the Hasidic community just before last month's election.

    Abraham contends the bike lanes put children at risk of getting hit by cars or bicycles as they exited school buses.

    But Baruch Herzfeld, who has tried to bridge the gap between hipsters and Hasids with a bike-rental program, said safety is not the issue so much as xenophobia.

    "They don't want the hipsters in their neighborhood," he said. "It's like in Howard Beach back in the day when they didn't want black people in the neighborhood."

    The cycling advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has not taken sides in the dispute.

    But bike lane or not, "cyclists have a right to be on Bedford Avenue," said Wiley Norvell, a group spokesman.

    (First of all, to clear up the nitpick: "But you don't need a bike lane to ride down the street!" It's there to keep people from running you over, not to give you legal sanction to use the street.) What's amazing here is that an American city outside Utah acquiesced to demands that a piece of public infrastructure be degraded, on the basis of someone's religious objections to women who are not covered. It was a boneheaded decision to enforce values of a single religious group upon the public at large.

    In Israel, where I presume there are no bike lanes, there is clearly not the messy separation of church and state that exists here (for now). Maybe it's fine there for religous law to dictate secular law. But there isn't much organ donation in Israel because of people's religious beliefs. An "opt-out" system isn't discriminatory in any way, but the same sort of people who got the City of New York to sandblast its bike lanes are the ones who will claim discrimination.

    • Re:Opt-out (Score:4, Informative)

      by Animaether (411575) on Monday March 15, @02:48AM (#31478726) Journal

      I never understood why organ donation is opt-in rather than opt-out.

      It's a good question - good luck getting any answers, though.

      This has been playing in The Netherlands for a long time now - seems to pop up every few years.

      In 1998 the centralized 'donor register' was started. People can indicate that they want to be a donor, what bits and pieces, that sort of thing.. or indicate that they do -not- want to be a donor. So it's opt-in - by default, if you're not registered / don't have aything written down in your will, your next of kin may decide (in which case 75% of the decisions on this are made against donating organs from the deceased).
      In 2002 the 'minister of health' said there would be no change for at least 2 years, after 2/3rds of the government decisionmakers decided against an opt-out system.
      In 2005, another voting round was held... 78 against, 68 -for- an opt-out system.
      I think there was another debate in 2008 or early 2009 but can't find a reference now.

      None of the press articles on these state why they were against an opt-out system, though. Only statements such as being in favor of promoting becoming a donor, or at least registering - regardless of your choice.

      I'm guessing it's got to do with the taboo on death that still lingers - probably even moreso in the U.S.

      Either that or they fear that somebody would find out that you actively said "no, you can't take my organs", and then couple this to other databases / provisions / label you a cold, selfish, heartless (can't donate that, then!) bastard, etc.

      I'm all for opt-out, with parents/guardians decision up to age 12, at which point anybody can decide for themselves, and at younger ages if the child can demonstrate that they do indeed know what they are deciding on, the consequences, etc. should it come to it that the parent(s)/guardian(s) disagree with the child.
      ( My Sister's Keeper was an interesting, albeit superficial, exploration of that theme )

      • Re:Opt-out (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday March 15, @04:32AM (#31479194) Journal

        I'm guessing it's got to do with the taboo on death that still lingers - probably even moreso in the U.S.

        When I die, my body does not belong to the State.

        I'm inherently suspicious of anything designed to be opt-out...
        And exceedingly suspicious of any opt-out program designed to take property away from me or my kin.

        If you don't know, your corpse belongs to your estate unless it goes unclaimed for a certain period of time,
        at which point your corpse belong to the State (and the remains are useless for anything besides an anatomy lesson).

        • Re:Opt-out (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Monday March 15, @05:26AM (#31479474) Journal

          When I die, my body does not belong to the State.

          When you die, you belong to no one. While you're alive, you can't transfer property rights over your body (one living person can't own another living person) and when you're dead you're not alive to agree to the transfer. Things like wills are constructions of the state to enforce property rights after you're dead. To that end, the state has a lot of power to possess things when you're dead. The fact that a vast majority of people might in fact want to put your body to good use when you're dead is, at least from a moral perspective, a good basis for supporting opt-out systems, anyways. It's not like, after all, you can't say "no" (and yes, clerical errors will likely occur, but there's no way to get around that since you'll be too dead to answer).

          I'm inherently suspicious of anything designed to be opt-out...
          And exceedingly suspicious of any opt-out program designed to take property away from me or my kin.

          Then you must free very suspicious of the legal system in general. Not only can it take your property, it can also take your liberty or your life. There's no real way to opt-out of it except leaving the State (and even then, extradition can get you); but, then, leaving the State also protects you from the opt-out donor system.

          If you don't know, your corpse belongs to your estate unless it goes unclaimed for a certain period of time,
          at which point your corpse belong to the State (and the remains are useless for anything besides an anatomy lesson).

          And estates are a by-product of State law (or a family with a lot of guns and a willingness to defend the property). This is, fundamentally, no different than estate tax laws. If you're really against the whole concept of your corpse being possibly used for organ donation, feel free to vote against it and opt-out if a law pass. But, if the vast majority wants an opt-out system, you don't much standing to complain, really.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Same in the US. I was about to make some snide comment to the effect that that's bass-ackwards too...

          That's not right. I can make up my mind for myself. It's a deeply, deeply personal choice that really cuts the the heart of what you believe about life.

          It'd be one thing if I refrained from answering (in which case it should be up to them), but if I decided one way or the other that decision should be honored.

          While I love and trust my family, they shouldn't be making that decision for me - nor should they be

    • Unless you're a hardcore brainwashed fanatic suicide bomber, religion pretty much goes out the window when your life's on the line...
    • by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Monday March 15, @03:33AM (#31478872)
      That'd be an odd statement from anyone familiar with Judaism itself, as opposed to someone generalizing it along with other religions.

      According to most Jews' interpretation of Jewish law, saving lives takes priority over nearly everything else. This is why, for example, taking pig insulin is perfectly okay.

      Consider the stereotype of Jews being doctors. Jews, in general, don't like throwing lives away.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rolfwind (528248)

        According to most Jews' interpretation of Jewish law, saving lives takes priority over nearly everything else. This is why, for example, taking pig insulin is perfectly okay.

        And yet, being an organ donor isn't.

          • by nidarus (240160) on Monday March 15, @10:25AM (#31481672)

            Jews consider that murder. As long as the heart is beating the person is alive.

            Some Orthodox Rabbis consider that murder. And there's been some progress in that area as well. It's not a resolved issue, by any measure.

            Aside from that - mod parent up. 90% of the comments here are based on BS.

    • Re:Hey guise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IICV (652597) on Monday March 15, @03:25AM (#31478840)

      Yeah, I don't understand this. Their religion comes from a time when cutting-edge surgery involved a dull axe, some grain alcohol (to get the surgeon's courage up) and maybe some hot tar if you were lucky. How can they possibly justify applying a book written by a bunch of shepherds and nomads to something as modern as organ transplantation?

      And if they think that God intended for His holy book to say something about organ transplants, wouldn't it be right there where it's obvious (like say in the ten commandments), and not hidden away in some obscure little passage?

      • Re:Hey guise (Score:5, Informative)

        by ars (79600) <> on Monday March 15, @04:54AM (#31479282) Homepage

        I posted this before, but here it is again:

        Jews do not believe it's wrong to donate. What they believe is that, as long as a persons heart is beating they are alive.

        Meaning: They believe it's wrong to murder someone to harvest organs.

        Others believe that after brain death the person is dead, and it's not murder.

        The argument is not over organ donation, which even the strictest rabbi agrees with.

        The argument is over the definition of death, since most organ donation are done after brain, but not cardiac, death.

            • Re:Loopholes (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Fnkmaster (89084) on Monday March 15, @11:13AM (#31482270)

              Orthodox Jews have a legalistic interpretation of their holy writings, i.e. principally the Old Testament. This leads them to look for loopholes within their own religious writings. This search for loopholes isn't a characteristic of rich and arrogant Jews, but rather of Orthodox Jews, perhaps specifically those who are arrogant enough to think that what man wrote in a book is more important that the intentions that an omniscient God should be fully aware of. This seems very silly to me, but I'm a scientist and a geek.

              Other sects of Judaism, such as the Reform and Conservative movements in the US that represent a majority of American Jews, tend to look at their holy writings as part of their culture, not writings to be interpreted literally. These groups view God through a more modern lens and tend to put aside some or all of the legalistic framework in favor of a more charitable interpretation of God as distinct from the writings of man in the Bible. These groups aren't so obsessed about finding loopholes in their religious texts, since they acknowledge that ancient practices have to be adapted to modern life.

              You can't paint all Jews with one brush on these sorts of things, just like you can't with all Christians. In fact, because Judaism is considered to be "born in" to those born Jewish, many people are considered Jews by the Jewish faith who are for all intents and purposes agnostic or atheistic.

              I'd lump myself into the boat of "American cultural Jews" - I practice the culture of my religion, have passover dinners, tell the stories, can read Hebrew and speak a bit of Yiddish passably, and plan on passing that culture down to my children. But I don't believe in an omnipotent God, or believe that if there is such a God he is disjoint from our universe and unknowable to us, and that good and bad behavior should be motivated by a working ethical framework, not religious fear.

              And I am an organ donor. Because it's the right thing to do and because when I'm dead I won't need 'em no more. Even if I believed in God, I see no reason he would object to organ donation. In any case, the question the Orthodox Jews are dealing with seems to be about when a person can be considered dead - I fail to see why their religious scholars don't admit the limits of their expertise and acknowledge that this is a question better determined by medical science and the families of the deceased than by themselves.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein