Thursday, October 4, 2018

World Medical Association: Physicians must not be complicit with Capital Punishment.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition



The current Journal of the World Medical Association (WMJ) (p 14 - 16) published an insightful article by Rania Mansour re-affirming the World Medical Association (WMA) position that Physicians must not be complicit with Capital Punishment. The article was written in response to the complicity of Iranian physicians with Capital Punishment.

The article explains the long-held WMA opposition to physicians complicity with capital punishment goes back to the Nuremberg revelations: The article states:

Following the violations of medical ethics committed by physicians during the Nazi regime and immediately after the Nuremberg revelations, the World Medical Association adopted two documents that embodied the Hippocratic Oath and asserted the prohibition of physician complicity in antihumanitarian acts.

The Declaration of Geneva affirms the medical professional’s pledge “to dedicate their lives to the service of humanity” and “to not use medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat”. The International Code of Medical Ethics sustains the physician’s duty to provide “competent medical service in full professional and moral independence, with compassion and respect for human dignity”.
The article explains that physicians are expected to uphold medical ethics, even when the law contravenes medical ethics. The article states:
These documents not only make it explicit that medicine is a therapeutic and compassionate field but also that the medical professional has a duty to uphold medical ethics in the face of contravening laws or regulations. This idea is portrayed clearly in the WMA Council Resolution in the Relation of Law and Ethics. 3 It follows then that physician involvement in the administration of capital punishment is ethically proscribed because it violates the ethical principles of the profession.
The Canadian and Dutch Medical Associations are lobbying the WMA to change their positions on euthanasia and assisted suicide because, what is true about the ethics of Capital Punishment must alos be true for the ethics of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
It's important to state that the WMA Declaration on Euthanasia and WMA Statement on Physician Assisted Suicide are: 
‘Euthanasia, that is the act of deliberately ending the life of a patient, even at the patient’s own request or at the request of close relatives, is unethical’. 
‘Physician assisted suicide, like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession. Where the assistance of the physician is intentionally and deliberately directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life, the physician acts unethically’.
Since euthanasia and assisted suicide are unethical and condemned by the WMA therefore physicians must not be complicit by participating in killing their patients by euthanasia or assisting their patients suicide deaths.

To protect their patients and their profession the medical professional has a duty to uphold medical ethics in the face of contravening laws or regulations and not be complicit with acts of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

1 comment:

Richard Leskun said...

I am not a doctor but I have asked many questions to doctors about the physiology of dying through lethal injection. My layman's interpretation is that the patient is sedated and then smothered by disabling the diaphragm thus allowing the lungs to collapse.
I believe victims of MAID and the watching family are told merely that the patient is just slipping peacefully off to sleep.
If the patient was told he is being smothered I suspect he would be less likely to consent .
Am I misstating this fact? Can someone comment and set me straight on this?

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