Navigating the chasm between religious and secular perspectives in modern bioethics

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In the past 3 years, three landmark laws relating to bioethics have been passed in the Israeli parliament. These are the Terminally Ill Patient Law (in 2005) and the Organ Donation Law and the Brain Death/Respiratory Law (in 2008). To reach consensus on these difficult issues in a multicultural society such as Israel was not an easy undertaking. Using learning from previous failed attempts, compromise, dialogue and work done in the absence of hysteria and publicity were crucial to the process. In all three laws, compromises were obtained between the secular and religious factions, from which an acceptable law was developed. The Israeli experience is a model of a country working to synthesise an ancient tradition with the complexities of modern life and could serve as an example for other countries struggling with similar issues.

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