Last updated on: 4/26/2010 | Author: ProCon.org

American Medical Association (AMA) Biography

Position:
Con to the question "Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?"
Reasoning:

“It is understandable, though tragic, that some patients in extreme duress–such as those suffering from a terminal, painful, debilitating illness–may come to decide that death is preferable to life. However, permitting physicians to engage in euthanasia would ultimately cause more harm than good. Euthanasia is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.

The involvement of physicians in euthanasia heightens the significance of its ethical prohibition. The physician who performs euthanasia assumes unique responsibility for the act of ending the patient’s life. Euthanasia could also readily be extended to incompetent patients and other vulnerable populations.

Instead of engaging in euthanasia, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life. Patients should not be abandoned once it is determined that cure is impossible. Patients near the end of life must continue to receive emotional support, comfort care, adequate pain control, respect for patient autonomy, and good communication.”

Letter written on behalf of the AMA by then AMA General Counsel Kirk Johnson to then Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley, Oct. 10, 1995

[Editor’s Note: The American Medical Association confirmed its “Con” position in “Opinion 2.211 – Physician Assisted Suicide,” adopted Dec. 1993 and updated June 1996 (and still the opinion published on their website as of May 29, 2013), stating: “…allowing physicians to participate in assisted suicide would cause more harm than good. Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”]

Description:

“The American Medical Association helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues.

AMA policy on issues in medicine and public health is decided through its democratic policy-making process, in the AMA House of Delegates.”

“Our Mission,” AMA website (accessed Apr. 26, 2010)

Mission:

Mission: To promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.

Core Values: (1) Leadership; (2) Excellence; and (3) Integrity and Ethical Behavior.

Vision: To be an essential part of the professional life of every physician.”

“Our Mission,” AMA website (accessed Apr. 26, 2010)

Other:
None found
Quoted in:
  1. Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?
  2. Did Dr. Jack Kevorkian Ethically Serve the Best Interests of His Patients?
  3. Is There a Moral Difference between Passive and Active Euthanasia?
  4. What Is Medical Futility?