Despite a fierce push from so-called “death with dignity” advocates, one of the largest and most influential medial organizations in the nation, the American Medical Association (AMA), voted to retain its position against assisted suicide and euthanasia measures.
On direction from a Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) report, the AMA voted 65-35 in favor of treating the terminally ill, as opposed to killing them.
“It is understandable, though tragic, that some patients in extreme duress–such as those suffering from a terminal, painful, debilitating illness–may come to decide that death is preferable to life,” states AMA policy. “However, allowing physicians to participate in assisted suicide would cause more harm than good. 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.”
According to LifeNews, the CEJA has twice concluded in the past year that euthanasia measures fall outside a doctor’s medical scope and should be avoided.
“We applaud the American Medical Association for maintaining their longstanding opposition to physician-assisted suicide. In doing so, the AMA sides with patients and people with disabilities who would be at risk for deadly harm through mistakes, coercion, and abuse, all the while carefully guarding the trust upon which the patient-physician relationship is based,” Patients Rights Action Fund director Matt Vallière told the outlet.
“Patients deserve care and protection, not a prescription for death. We trust that this decision will encourage states considering legislation to continue to reject assisted suicide,” he added.
Last week, a tragic case of a depressed teenage rape victim, 17-year-old Noa Pothoven, starving herself to death in the Netherlands sparked conversation about euthanasia.
Pothoven, whose request to be euthanized was reportedly denied by the government, allegedly died of self-starvation last Sunday.
“Initial reports claimed Noa Pothoven chose to end her life Sunday with the assistance of an end of life clinic, which has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002,” said a Fox News report. “But it is unclear whether she died because doctors directly intervened, or if she refused to eat.”
The fuzzy details surrounding her death led to Pope Francis issuing a statement on euthanasia, writing, “Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a defeat for all. We are called never to abandon those who are suffering, never giving up but caring and loving to restore hope.”
According to two well-established doctors — Ronald W. Pies, MD, a professor emeritus of psychiatry and lecturer on bioethics at State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, and Annette Hanson, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland and at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and director of the University of Maryland forensic fellowship program — there is evidence that patients are being improperly euthanized in Europe. The duo explained (citations removed; can be accessed, here):
“People with nonterminal illnesses have been legally euthanized at their own request in several countries for nearly 15 years. … Between 2008 and 2014, more than 200 psychiatric patients were euthanized by their own request in the Netherlands (1% of all euthanasia in that country). Among them, 52% had a diagnosis of personality disorder, 56% refused 1 or more offered treatments, and 20% had never even had an inpatient stay (1 indication of previous treatment intensity). When asked the primary reason for seeking PAS/euthanasia, 66% cited ‘social isolation and loneliness.’”
“Despite the legal requirement for agreement between outside consultants, for 24% of psychiatric patients euthanized, at least 1 outside consultant disagreed.”
And the United States, the medical professionals added, “has not been immune to the slippery slope, either. For example, in Oregon, a psychiatrist opened a fee-for-service death clinic where, for $5,000, ‘terminally ill patients who are eligible to take advantage of…Oregon’s suicide law can book a death that might look a lot like a wedding package.’”