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The National Catholic Bioethics Center
Reply to the AMA on Potential Position of Neutrality on Physician Assisted Suicide
February 23, 2017
© 2017 by The National Catholic Bioethics Center
The American Medical Association is considering a change in its historically maintained position, in opposition to Physician Assisted Suicide. Since the time of Hippocrates the sacred trust between patient and physician has mandated that the physician be an agent for life, not death. Now, the role of the healer is being degraded to being a vending machine, wherein patient autonomy supersedes all other ethical principles. The impact on vulnerable populations, all in the purported name of autonomy, is very evident. In countries that have legalized physician assisted suicide, eligibility has moved from a patient having a terminal illness to having cognitive and physiological impairments, and from assisting a person to die, to active euthanasia. Informed consent is being eroded, and parents can consent to the assisted death of their children. All of this should provide great concern for a profession charged with providing just and beneficent care to patients. The NCBC has articulated these and other concerns to the AMA, as the AMA considers this policy change, which may be brought before its members at its June 2017 meeting.