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The American Medical Association To Examine Its Opposition To Physician-Assisted Suicide


Amid a national debate regarding the risks and benefits of physician-assisted suicide, the American Medical Association will examine its decades-long opposition to the controversial practice.

A recommendation that the nation’s largest physicians organization maintain its opposition to assisted-suicide was rejected Monday, with delegates at the annual Chicago meeting instead voting to continue reviewing its stance on the matter.

“Following deliberations today by the House of Delegates that reflected the thoughtful, morally admirable range of views on physician-assisted suicide, the existing guidance in the Code of Medical Ethics remains unchanged. Delegates referred the issue for additional information and discussion at a future policy-making meeting,” said Dr. Andrew Gurman, immediate past president of the organization, in a statement.

Over the last two years, Gurman said the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs solicited input and consulted with stakeholders representing a wide-range of views on physician-assisted suicide.

The organization’s current position labels the practice “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”

“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. However, permitting physicians to engage in assisted suicide would ultimately cause more harm than good,” the current guidance reads.

The practice is legal is six states and the District of Columbia. California’s new law was recently overturned in court after a judge ruled the state Legislature improperly passed the measure during a special session on health care funding.