Why American doctors need to hold the line on physician-assisted suicide

Physician-assisted dying is a deeply divisive issue in the medical community. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

(RNS) — The American Medical Association’s official opposition to physician-assisted suicide is admirable and clear: “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.”

The AMA currently insists, in other words, that health care providers focus on killing the pain, not the patient.

But in June, at their annual meeting in Chicago, the AMA’s House of Delegates voted to continue to review the policy, with assisted-suicide supporters arguing for the group to take a neutral stance. In a move last month that was called “startling” by the president of the Catholic Medical Association, the American Association of Family Physicians — whose New York chapter already supports the practice — changed its official position on physician-assisted suicide from opposed to neutral.

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