The American College of Physicians argues medicine’s goal is not to control the manner and timing of death.
Amid increasing attempts to legalize euthanasia at the state level, the nation’s second-largest network of physicians officially spoke out against it last week.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) wrote in a position statement published Sept. 19 in the Annals of Internal Medicine that the organization of 152,000 medical professionals stands against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, “the practice of which raises ethical, clinical, and other concerns.”
“Control over the manner and timing of a person’s death has not been and should not be a goal of medicine,” the group concluded. “However, through high-quality care, effective communication, compassionate support, and the right resources, physicians can help patients control many aspects of how they live out life’s last chapter.”
The position paper came in response to increasing public interest in legalizing euthanasia to promote patient autonomy at the end of life. The ACP said it remained “attentive to all voices” but decided to oppose legalization efforts.
John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said the decision is “wonderful news.”
The ACP statement is “giving voice to the real need of compassionate and supportive care for people who may be considering requests for assisted suicide and protecting the role of physicians as healers, not killers,” he said.
The much larger American Medical Association (AMA) has for years discouraged physicians from being “involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life.”
Alex Schadenberg, director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said the ACP statement aligning with the AMA should help shatter the pro-euthanasia movement’s illusion of unstoppable momentum.
“The facts show otherwise, that there’s not really a massive turn toward assisted suicide going on,” he said. “Over and over again, almost every state is constantly defeating this. The doctors remain against it. The court decisions in the last couple of years have all gone against it, and yet there’s a perception that the opposite is true.”
Physician statements like the ACP’s carry a lot of weight with legislators “because when you legalize assisted suicide, you’re actually asking physicians to be directly and intentionally involved with giving lethal drugs to their patients,” Schadenberg said.
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Source: Baptist Press