The Children’s National Medical Center in Washington is going to court to seek a court order to terminate life support for a 12-year-old boy in a case raising parental and religious rights. A ventilator and medications are currently keeping Moti Brody of Brooklyn, N.Y. alive but his Orthodox Jewish parents do not recognize brain death in their religion.
Brody was diagnosed with severe brain cancer and, after six months months in the hospital, shows no brain activity.
His parents, Eluzer and Miriam Brody, have retained counsel to force the hospital to continue to support their son. Their attorney, Jeffrey Zuckerman, stated: “Under Jewish law and their faith, there is no such thing as brain death. Their religious beliefs are entitled to respect.”
The hospital is complaining that keeping Brody alive is draining resources needed for other patients. It is a classic conflict in torts and constitutional law where the court must decide whether to overrule the wishes of parents or a spouse.
Usually courts will side with the hospital in such cases. Otherwise, a hospital will be forced to support care worth millions that can go on for many years. Notably, New York and New Jersey make exceptions to accommodate Orthodox Jews and other faiths on such matters. The District does not make such exceptions.
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