By Frederick J. White, MD
About a year ago, the Washington Post reported on the debate at the American Medical Association regarding physician assisted suicide, and asked whether its longstanding opposition might change. The answer is now in, and the answer is a resounding NO. We are not simply reaffirming opposition to an unethical practice. The AMA has reasserted the fundamental role of the physician as healer, and a commitment to principles of the ancient oath to Do No Harm.
This summer, after 2 years of in-depth study by our Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) and another year of formal debate, we at the AMA House of Delegates voted at the annual meeting by a 71% majority to reaffirm our opposition to physician assisted suicide, again noting that it is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”
We are the largest medical association in the country. With our recent vote reaffirming opposition we join the 2nd largest physician association, the American College of Physicians, which reaffirmed its opposition in 2017, as well as the World Medical Association, which reaffirmed its opposition in 2015.
The AMA-adopted report retains use of the term “physician-assisted suicide” rather than the sanitized “death with dignity” or “aid in dying.” Ethics requires clarity of expression. We owe our patients, the media, and politicians straight-forward language that betokens honest, productive discussion between divergent parties of goodwill.
Read more at Real Clear Health…