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American Medical Association Says ‘No’ to Physician-Assisted Suicide

Frederick J. White, RealClearHealth, 5 July 2019

This summer, after 2 years of in-depth study by our Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) and another year of formal debate, we at the AMA House of Delegates voted at the annual meeting by a 71% majority to reaffirm our opposition to physician assisted suicide, again noting that it is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”  

We are the largest medical association in the country. With our recent vote reaffirming opposition we join the 2nd largest physician association, the American College of Physicians, which reaffirmed its opposition in 2017, as well as the World Medical Association, which reaffirmed its opposition in 2015.

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This week, the role of doctors will fundamentally change

By Mark Yates, The Age, 17th June 2019

Mark Yates, geriatrician and associate professor at Deakin University, discusses how from June 19, “Victoria will become the only jurisdiction in Australia to legalise euthanasia by enacting the voluntary assisted dying legislation.”

The fact that this will be a rare occurrence is irrelevant to the majority of the medical profession. The issue is that the role of the doctor is fundamentally changed by this legislation, from treatment to protect life and relieve suffering to now include intentionally causing the death of a patient

For doctors there is plenty of room for challenge and risk of accusation of unprofessional behaviour or worse, whether a doctor declines or accepts to head down the voluntary assisted dying pathway. The blanket protection included for doctors once the person is dead does not protect them from accusations of errors in process. Predicting prognosis, assessing capacity and the self-definition of “expert in the field” are all open to interpretation and challengeable.

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Dismay at a seismic shift in medical practice

By Douglas T Bridge, Sinead M Donnelly and Frank P Brennan, Medical Journal of Australia, 4 March 2019

As the peak physician organisation in Australasia, we urge the Royal Australasian College of Physicians to make an unambiguous statement to the general public, the medical profession and politicians that EAS is not part of health care; EAS should not require involvement of doctors; and EAS creates irreconcilable conflicts with our responsibilities to our patients.

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