COVID-19 Ventilator Crisis: Comparative Ethical Analysis of Jewish and Secular Approaches to Scarce Resource Allocation
Frohlich, Bailey Abigail
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This paper will explore the different perspectives of Jewish and Secular ethics regarding triage decisions, specifically comparing and contrasting the two perspectives as it is relevant to the COVID-19 ventilator shortage. Firstly, I will present an overview of the four foundational principles that underpin secular triage ethics and how they are incorporated into existing hospital and institution-based resource allocation guidelines. I will then comprehensively examine the Jewish perspective of triage, which is based on a wide array of sources from the Talmud, Rishonim, early Acharonim and contemporary poskim. An understanding of two halakhic principles, pikuach nefesh and ain dochen nefesh mipnei nefesh, is necessary to appreciate the delicate balance between the individual and community that the Talmud and poskim try to make when considering triage dilemmas. This paper will highlight the various streams of thought within the halakhic literature, many of which closely parallel the aforementioned secular principles. Although each system is grounded in a different set of core values, the practical solution to ventilator allocation dilemmas is quite similar according to Jewish and secular principles
Senior honors thesis. Open Access.
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