The American Medical Association (AMA) has again rejected physician-assisted suicide by an overwhelming majority.
Delegates at the June 8-12 AMA annual meeting in Chicago, voted 392-162 to reaffirm the organization’s existing policy, which states that “Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.” By a 360-190 vote, it also adopted the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) report which recommended that the organization maintain its opposition to doctor-assisted suicide and euthanasia.
In 2016, delegates at the annual general meeting of the AMA asked that its Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs review the group’s policy on assisted suicide. In 2018, CEJA upheld the AMA’s opposition to assisted-suicide and euthanasia but a month later delegates voted again to ask CEJA to continue reviewing the policy. After advising minor tweaking to the AMA’s anti-assisted suicide position, euthanasia activists within the AMA continued to push for further review of the policy by CEJA. The council rejected direction to advise whether there was a difference between physician-assisted suicide and “aid-in-dying.” CEJA’s report stated that “debate is best served by using plainly descriptive language” and concluded that “despite its negative connotations, the term ‘physician-assisted suicide’ describes the practice with the greatest precision.”
Dr. Diane Gowski, a delegate from Florida, said during debate at the June meeting, “We would not give our patients a gun or revolver … so we should not be supplying them with lethal drugs. Physician-assisted suicide violates natural moral law.” She said changing the group’s position on the issue would “only confuse the public as to the intention and role of their physicians.”
Dr. Shane Macaulay of Washington State warned his fellow delegates that Oregon and Canada provided evidence that once doctor-assisted suicide is allowed in some specified circumstances, there is quickly movement to broaden criteria and availability of medical killing.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, described the vote as “great news,” telling LifeSiteNews that “The AMA has reaffirmed that assisting the suicide of patients is not ethical or a part of medicine.” He said the overwhelming majority should reinforce within the medical community and the general public that “doctors should never be involved with killing their patients.”
However, the AMA House of Delegates’ Medical Student Section endorsed a resolution to change the AMA’s position to one of “engaged neutrality” – that is, “neither for nor against physician-assisted suicide.”