When healers become agents of death, not life


Assisted suicide makes for bad law and bad medicine. It is dangerous public policy that negatively impacts everyone and profoundly changes medicine’s role in society. Performing assisted suicides damages the physician-patient relationship and violates our calling to heal.

Many medical groups globally and in the United States reject assisted suicide. The World Medical Association (WMA), for example, recently announced its continuing firm opposition, writing “utmost respect has to be maintained for human life.” The WMA reached this conclusion after holding consultative conferences around the world, and states that the WMA position “is in accord with the views of most physicians worldwide.”

Domestically, groups including the American Medical Association, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association, and the American College of Physicians, all oppose assisted suicide. The American Medical Association concisely states that “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.”

In Oregon, where assisted suicide was first legalized, patients have lived years after receiving but not using a lethal prescription. Tragically, we will never know how many who have prematurely ended their own lives based on a doctor’s educated best guess could have gone on to live much longer…

Assisted suicide also allows physicians to discriminate against some of their most vulnerable patients. Ordinarily, if someone indicates that they want or intend to commit suicide, health professionals respond with crisis intervention. But not if the person is diagnosed with a terminal illness in a place where assisted suicide is legal. In these states, certain individuals suffering from suicidal ideation no longer receive the protection of suicide prevention services and can be encouraged toward death.

Read more at the Washington Times…

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