Last updated on: 8/19/2009 | Author:

Edmund Pellegrino, MD Biography

Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Medical Ethics and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University
Con to the question "Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?"

“[P]ain relief being so effective today, [assisted suicide and euthanasia] are unnecessary; their vaunted expression of autonomy is dubious at best; they are erosive of confidence in the physician’s intention; they are not private acts; they devalue the lives of the impaired infant, the elderly, the chronically ill; and they desensitize physicians and the whole society to killing and thus distort the idea of compassion and altruism; they deviate energies away from the relief of suffering which, other than physical pain, is the reason patients desperately ask for death as the exit.

The case against assisted suicide and euthanasia… can be rejected because they violate the first principle of medical ethics- benevolence in helping, healing, and alleviating pain and suffering. The putative benevolence of intentional killing is illusory, not in the interest of the patient, and deleterious to societal good.”

“Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: Rebuttals of Rebuttals – The Moral Prohibition Remains,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 2001

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Professor Emeritus, Medicine and Medical Ethics, and Adjunct Professor, Philosophy, Georgetown University
  • Senior Fellow, Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity
  • Member, International Bioethics Committee, United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 2004-present
  • Master, American College of Physicians
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Member, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences
  • Director, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, 1983-1989
  • Former Director, Center for the Advanced Study of Ethics and Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University
  • Former Chairman, President’s Council on Bioethics
  • Former Director, Center for Clinical Bioethics
  • Founding Editor, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy
  • Recipient, Benjamin Rush Award, American Medical Association
  • Recipient, Abraham Flexner Award, Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Recipient, Laetare Award, University of Notre Dame
  • Recipient, Beecher Award for Life Achievement in Bioethics, Hastings Center
  • Recipient of 47 honorary degrees
  • MD, New York University, 1944
  • BS, summa cum laude, St. John’s University, 1941
  • Dr. Pellegrino died on June 13, 2013.
Quoted in:
  1. Would Improving Palliative Care Decrease Patient Requests for Physician-Assisted Suicide?
  2. Is a Physician ever Obligated to Help a Patient Die?