The American Medical Association voted this week to return to committee a report recommending continued opposition to physician assisted suicide – a move that commentators have called a missed opportunity to stand up for the value of human life.
“For more than two decades the nation’s most prominent and largest association of physicians vocally opposed physician-assisted suicide,” Dr. Peter T. Morrow, M.D., president of the Catholic Medical Association, said June 12. He said the national delegates’ refusal to accept the recommendation was “hugely disappointing and frankly disturbing.”
AMA’s House of Delegates, meeting in Chicago June 11, narrowly voted not to accept the report recommending that they continue their stance of opposing physician assisted suicide. About 56 percent of delegates voted for the report to undergo further review. The association has about 240,000 members in the U.S., with membership including medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine, and medical students.
The rejected AMA committee report is the product of two years’ work. It cited concerns that assisted suicide’s use might expand from mentally competent, terminally ill adults to children, people with psychiatric disorders, or people with socioeconomic challenges.
The report backed continued use of the phrase “assisted suicide” rather than in “aid in dying” or “death with dignity.” Justifying this decision, it said “ethical deliberation and debate is best served by using plainly descriptive language.” It added: “despite its negative connotations, the term ‘physician assisted suicide’ describes the practice with the greatest precision.”
Marie T. Hilliard, a nurse who is director of bioethics and public policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said her organization would have preferred the committee report be accepted.
“But the good news is the AMA did not change their position,” she said. “They’re going to study their council’s recommendation for another year. It means we continue to work.”
Full story at Catholic News Agency.