Wednesday, November 14, 2018

American Medical Association continues to debate assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


During the past year the American Medical Association (AMA) has been debating its position on assisted suicide. One wing of the AMA are pressuring the AMA to move to a neutral position on assisted suicide while another wing of the AMA is urging them to maintain opposition to physicians prescribing lethal drugs to their patients.

At the recent AMA Interim meeting delegates voted (275 - 259) to maintain opposition to assisted suicide while sending the assisted suicide policy back to the (AMA) Council on Ethics and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) to review their assisted suicide position.

The American Medical Association opposes physician-assisted suicide. The AMA policy states:

It is understandable, though tragic, that some patients in extreme duress--such as those suffering from a terminal, painful, debilitating illness--may come to decide that death is preferable to life. However, allowing physicians to participate in assisted suicide would cause more harm than good. Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.
In the past year, CEJA has deliberated twice and concluded both times that the current AMA policy on assisted suicide should be upheld.

In May 2018, CEJA released its report on assisted suicide and concluded:
After careful consideration, CEJA concludes that in its current form the Code offers guidance to support physicians and the patients they serve in making well-considered, mutually respectful decisions about legally available options for care at the end of life in the intimacy of a patient-physician relationship. The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs therefore recommends that the Code of Medical Ethics not be amended.
At the AMA annual convention in June 2018, the delegates voted to send the assisted suicide report back to CEJA for further study. In October 2018, after considerable discussion, CEJA released a new report on assisted suicide. CEJA once again recommended that the AMA maintain its opposition to assisted suicide. The report concluded:
After careful consideration, CEJA concludes that in existing opinions on physician-assisted suicide and the exercise of conscience, the Code offers guidance to support physicians and the patients they serve in making well-considered, mutually respectful decisions about legally available options for care at the end of life in the intimacy of a patient-physician relationship. The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs therefore recommends that the Code of Medical Ethics not be amended, that Resolutions 15-A-16 and 14-A-17 not be adopted and that the remainder of the report be filed.
EPC encourages CEJA and the American Medical Association to maintain its opposition to assisted suicide.


It is important to note that recently the World Medical Association also maintained its opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Legalizing euthanasia and/or assisted suicide gives doctors the right in law to cause the death of their patients, a right that the majority of physicians don't want.

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