Don’t Cave: Physician-Assisted Suicide Unethical


The World Medical Association should uphold its ethics code and not succumb to politics

Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia (PAS-E) has been a source of discussion for millennia, as evidenced by its explicit mention in the Hippocratic Oath from the fifth to third century B.C., where Hippocrates includes it among the list of things physicians must never participate in. In the aftermath of the horrors of the 20th century, where thousands of people were euthanized without their consent in World War II, there was an even stronger swing of the pendulum against any form of PAS-E.

However, the latter half of the 20th century has seen a resurgence of this debate, with a number of countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, and Luxemburg, having legalized euthanasia, with a push to normalize PAS-E worldwide. This month, the World Medical Association (WMA), the international organization representing physicians to ensure their independence and work towards the highest standard of ethical behaviorand care, will hold its 212th Council Session, where it has called for written opinions re-examining the PAS-E statement in the WMA code of ethics.

Currently, the language in the code of ethics on PAS-E, adopted by the 53rd WMA General Assembly in 2002, states that “[PAS], like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession. Where the assistance of the physician is intentionally and deliberately directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life, the physician acts unethically.” The statement even encourages national medical associations and physicians to refrain from participating in euthanasia, even if national laws allow it.

Read more at MedPage Today…

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