AMA to hold interim meeting to consider abandoning decades-long opposition to assisted suicide

By Jennifer Popik, JD
Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

AMAlogoThere is an effort currently underway within the influential American Medical Association (AMA) to abandon its decades-long position opposing assisted suicide and take a neutral stance.

At its July 2017 annual meeting, the AMA will consider taking a neutral position which essentially sends a green light to the states that legalizing is acceptable. However, we have recently been made aware that the AMA will hold an interim meeting on November 13 and 14 in Orlando where a special breakout session will be held on assisted suicide.

At the end of this article you will find addresses and emails for the President of the AMA and  for the Secretary of its influential Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs.

As NRL News Today explained August 18,  “neutrality” would be potentially disastrous.

Both the national and state medical societies’ opposition to doctor-prescribed suicide have been instrumental in stopping the spread of these dangerous laws. In fact, when the Vermont and California medical societies took neutral positions, it was devastating to the efforts in the legislature to block legalization.

Assisting suicide is now legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and California, and the practice may have some legal protection in the state of Montana. But should the AMA end its strong and influential opposition to the dangerous practice, we can expect many more states will face fierce legalization battles. We will all be at risk.

Why should the AMA should retain its longstanding position in opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide?

  • Medical professionals should focus on providing care and comfort to patients – NOT becoming a source of lethal drugs. I would not want my doctor to have this power and suggest suicide to me as an “option.”
  • Will the government and insurance companies do the right thing – pay for treatment costing thousands of dollars – or the cheap thing – pay for lethal drugs costing hundreds of dollars?
  • Everyone knows someone who has been misdiagnosed or outlived a terminal diagnosis.
  • Wanting to die because of depression is treatable.   Millions of people are living proof.
  • Everyone agrees that dying in pain is unacceptable, however nearly all pain is now treatable. A patient in pain should find a new doctor.
  • Oregon is proof that general suicides rise dramatically once assisted suicide is promoted as a “good.”
  • My family member could die from taking lethal drugs and I wouldn’t know about it until he/she is dead because no family notification is required in advance.
  • Assisted suicide is a recipe for elder and disability abuse because it can put lethal drugs in the hands of abusers.
  • A relative who is an heir to the patient’s estate or an abusive caregiver can pick up the lethal drugs and administer them without the patient’s knowledge or consent. There is no oversight and no witnesses are required once the lethal drugs leave the pharmacy


Please contact the following and urge the American Medical Association to retain its position against assisted suicide:

Dr. Andrew W. Gurman, MD, AMA President,

330 N Wabash, Ste 43482

Chicago IL 60611-5885

312.464.5618 phone

312.464.4094 fax

Bette Crigger, PhD, CEJA’s Secretary,

Secretary, Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs

American Medical Association

330 N Wabash, Ste 43482

Chicago  IL 60611-5885

312.464.5223 phone

312.224.6911 fax