Why Physicians Should Oppose Assisted Suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), in its current edition, published a series of articles concerning palliative care, end-of-life treatment and assisted suicide.

Dr. Y Tony Yang and Dr. Farr A Curlin offered their insights as to Why physicians should oppose assisted suicide. Dr. Yang is affiliated with George Mason University and Dr. Curlin is affiliated with Duke University.

In their article, Yang and Curlin focus on why people ask for assisted suicide and why physicians should not support or participate in assisted suicide. They begin their article with the following:

That we are debating this question of whether physician-assisted suicide is ever justifiable shows how far medicine has shifted toward redefining the role of the physician. If the medical profession accepts physician-assisted suicide, it will be declaring decisively that "physicians" are mere providers of services to be guided only by the desires of the individual patient, the will of the state or other third parties, and what that law allows.

They continue by examining the difference between palliative care and assisted suicide:

While acknowledging that death may come sooner as a side effect of palliation, physicians pledge never to intentionally hasten the patients' death. ... Yet with physician-assisted suicide, the physician is to disregard what is perhaps the most universal moral injunction - do not kill (emphasis is mine) - and wrtie a lethal prescription with the express intent of helping patients kill themselves.

Link to the full article