Ep. 78 Personal Autonomy and Medical Coercion In Jewish Law – The Case of Cassandra C. vs. State of Connecticut

In this episode we take a look at the fascinating case of Cassandra C. In September 2014, Cassandra C., then 17 years old, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After lying to the courts and running away from chemo, she was placed under the custody of the Connecticut Dept. of Children and Families. She was then forced to complete treatments against her and her family’s wishes, ultimately resulting in her complete recovery.

In this episode we discuss the Torah’s perspective on the following ethical questions:

Are there any limits to personal autonomy in Jewish law?

Is one allowed to deny treatment of a curable disease?

If one is making a bad medical decision, can we coerce them into taking the necessary treatment?

As I move over the next few weeks, I will be posting episodes on fascinating topics in Jewish Bioethics from classes I gave to a group of Medical Doctors. Once I’m settled, I intend on restarting the shorter 10-15 minute style I’ve used until now. I’d love your feedback on which you like!

Happy listening!

Rabbi Moshe

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Source sheets can be accessed at www.sefaria.org/sheets/415387

Full Hebrew Source sheets here

Legal Documentation from the Supreme Court of Connecticut can be found here

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