Machines will perform euthanasia on terminally ill patients in Israel under legislation devised not to offend Jewish law, which forbids people taking human life.
A special timer will be fitted to a patient's respirator which will sound an alarm 12 hours before turning it off. Normally, carers would override the alarm and keep the respirator turned on but, if various stringent conditions are met, including the giving of consent by the patient or legal guardian, the alarm would not be overridden.
Similar timing devices, known as Sabbath clocks, are used in the homes of orthodox Jews so that light switches and electrical devices can be turned on during the Sabbath without offending religious strictures.
"The point was that it is wrong, under Jewish law, for a person's life to be taken by a person but, for a machine, it is acceptable," a parliamentary spokesman said. "A man would not be able to shorten human life but a machine can."
Putting the "dead man" back in "dead man switch"!