Tell it like it is: ‘Aid in dying’ is physician-assisted suicide

Dr. James L. Mostrom

A recent “educational program” in Syracuse by End of Life Choices NY (EOLCNY) suggested that medical aid in dying was not really suicide. I beg to differ, along with the American Medical Association (AMA), whose Code of Medical Ethics states that “Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician facilitates a patient’s death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act … while aware that the patient may commit suicide”.

The AMA does not deny that some patients may experience extreme duress that may result from a terminal or debilitating illness, but “permitting physicians to engage in assisted suicide would ultimately cause more harm than good.” Instead it advocates for appropriate comfort care and adequate pain control. Finally it concludes that “physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”

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