American Medical Association spurns assisted suicide proposals

By Michael Cook

The American Medical Association has resisted a push to adopt a position of neutrality on assisted suicide and euthanasia. In its interim meeting earlier this month, delegates voted down two resolutions which would have substantially weakened the AMA’s traditional opposition to assisted dying of any kind.

According to a report in The Pulse by Dr. Tim Milea, the House of Delegates decided:

  • not to adopt a resolution to change the AMA’s position on assisted suicide from its current opposition to one of neutrality.
  • not to adopt a proposal that would have removed the AMA’s current position that it “strongly opposes any bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia” (AMA Policy H 270.965).
  • not to adopt a proposal that would have removed the AMA’s current position that assisted suicide “is fundamentally inconsistent with the physician’s professional role” (AMA Policy H 140.952).
  • Two other proposals were referred to the AMA Board for further study:
  • to create a new AMA policy that would oppose criminalization of health care professionals who participate in assisted suicide
  • to change AMA terminology from physician-assisted suicide to the Canadian term “medical aid in dying” (MAiD)

A first-year resident, Emily Makhlouf, expressed the position of many delegates. “It is not within the realm of medicine to decide when we enter this world and when we leave it. This is God’s work. In medicine, we try to cure and when cure is not possible, we try to relieve suffering as much as possible. Killing our patients will never be part of the noble pursuit of medicine.”

The AMA’s code of ethics currently states that allowing doctors to engage in assisted suicide would “ultimately 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. Instead of engaging in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life,” it says.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Bioedge and reposted with permission.