Thursday, May 16, 2024

Finnish Medical Association maintains opposition to euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

At their recent meeting, the Finnish Medical Association upheld their opposition to euthanasia.

The Helsinki Times reported on May 16 that:
In a recent meeting on May 16, 2024, the Finnish Medical Association's (FMA) council upheld its opposition to the legalization of euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide, reinforcing that physicians should not be compelled to perform procedures primarily intended to hasten a patient's death.

The FMA articulated that introducing legislation to permit euthanasia would represent a profound shift in values and could lead to unpredictable developments in medical practice.

The organization emphasized that the primary role of physicians is to protect life using current medical knowledge and to alleviate suffering, rather than addressing healthcare system deficiencies through euthanasia.

This decision follows an extensive period of research, international comparison, and consultation, including a survey conducted in collaboration with the University of Tampere. The survey gathered around 9,000 responses from Finnish physicians, revealing a slight increase in support for euthanasia over the years but also significant division among the medical community. Notably, doctors with specialization in palliative care tend to be more critical of euthanasia, and a majority are not personally prepared to perform it, with only 13.5% expressing full agreement that they would practice euthanasia if it were legal.

The FMA also raised concerns about the impact of legalizing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide on public trust in healthcare, which is currently declining. Only 58% of respondents in a recent "Citizens' Pulse" survey reported high confidence in the healthcare system. The association argued that an irreversible procedure like euthanasia demands exceptionally high levels of trust in the healthcare system's ability to assess and fulfill patients' end-of-life wishes.

In conclusion, the FMA reaffirmed its position against the legalization of euthanasia, citing ethical concerns, the potential effects on physician well-being, and the equality of patient treatment. The organization believes that Finnish healthcare is not ready to incorporate euthanasia into its practice, highlighting the complex and multifaceted nature of the issue.
In May 2018, the Finish parliament rejected a bill to legalize euthanasia by a vote of 128 to 60 (Link).

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