American Medical Ass’n Drops Opposition to Assisted Suicide

by David Nussman  •  •  June 13, 2018   

Leading doctors organization votes to reconsider its pro-life position

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DETROIT ( - In a surprise move, America's largest medical organization is softening its stance against assisted suicide.

The American Medical Association (AMA) voted on Monday to reconsider its official position against helping patients kill themselves — this despite the AMA's own ethics panel advising otherwise.

Previously, the AMA condemned physician-assisted suicide on the grounds that helping patients kill themselves contradicts the doctor's main duty of helping patients heal and live.

After several years of studying the matter, AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) advised remaining opposed to doctor-assisted suicide. But the AMA has voted to have the ethics panel pursue further study, rather than accepting the findings and reinforcing the organization's long-held opposition to assisted suicide.

But Monday's vote has opened the door for altering the national organization's stance on physician-assisted suicide.
Some state affiliates of AMA have already taken neutral positions on assisted suicide. According to Steven Ertelt of LifeNews, "right to die" activists pushed for these neutral positions because it helped with legalizing assisted suicide:

For years the nation's leading doctors organization has opposed assisted suicide, which preys on the elderly and disabled. But euthanasia activists have been successful in getting some of its state affiliates to take a neutral position, which has allowed and enabled state legislators in some states to approve legalizing assisted suicide.

Ertelt also noted that "in almost every state where the medical community supported assisted suicide or became neutral on the issue, laws have subsequently been passed permitting it."

Assisted suicide is not medical care.

The United States' second-largest doctors organization is the American College of Physicians (ACP). The ACP doubled down on its opposition to assisted suicide last year, stating:

The power to prescribe assisted suicide carries a profound potential for misuse and abuse. The creation of a formal role for physicians to assist patients with suicide in an era of health care cost containment is especially troublesome. A broad right to physician-assisted suicide in a country with no general right to health care would be, at best, ironic.

Matt Vallière, executive director of the Patients' Rights Action Fund, wrote in an op-ed for The Hill: "Countries that have legalized assisted suicide started where American proponents suggest we start and have ended up with expansion to assisted suicide and euthanasia for nearly any reason and eroding the little protections there were for vulnerable people."

Vallière told LifeNews, "Although the AMA's opposition position still stands for now, a referral back to CEJA is a lost opportunity and a failure to stand against a policy that has grave consequences for everyone, but especially persons living with illness, disabilities or socio-economic disadvantage. Assisted suicide is not medical care."

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