September 27, 2017
Offer thanks to the Lord for moving upon physicians in the U.S. to stand against euthanasia.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:19 -20)
In “Ethics and the Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide,” an updated paper published [September 19, 2017] in Annals of Internal Medicine, the American College of Physicians (ACP) reaffirmed its opposition to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and affirmed a professional responsibility to improve the care of dying patients. ACP cites ethical arguments and clinical, policy, legal, and other concerns for its positions.
“The American College of Physicians acknowledges the range of views on, the depth of feelings about, and the complexity of the issue of physician-assisted suicide,” said Jack Ende, MD, MACP, president, ACP. “But the focus at the end of life should be on efforts to prevent or ease suffering and on the often unaddressed needs of patients and families. As a society, we need to work to improve hospice and palliative care, including awareness and access.”
A recent study found 90 percent of US adults do not know what palliative care is, but when told its definition, more than 90 percent said they would want it for themselves or family members if severely ill.
Despite recent changes in the legal and political landscape and arguments by proponents, ACP finds ethical and other arguments against physician-assisted suicide to be the most compelling, including that physician-assisted suicide alters the physician’s role as healer and comforter and the medical profession’s role in society, and it affects trust in the patient-physician relationship and the profession. . . .
ACP advises physicians to thoroughly discuss patient concerns and reasons for requests for physician-assisted suicide. The paper has a list of 12 steps that physicians should follow with all patients nearing the end of life. Requests for physician-assisted suicide are unlikely to persist when compassionate supportive care is provided, ACP says in the paper.
“Through effective communication, high quality care, compassionate support, and the right resources for hospice and palliative care, physicians can help patients control many aspects of how they live out life’s last chapter,” Dr. Ende said. (Excerpted from Press Release of the American College of Physicians.)
“The pro-euthanasia camp has yet to make such headway in the United States.
Since Oregon passed its Death with Dignity Act in 1994, lawmakers have filed 231 bills seeking to legalize euthanasia in state legislatures across the country, according to the Patients Rights Council. One-fifth—43 bills—appeared this year, and every one of them failed before becoming law.
Some states have defeated dozens of proposals: Hawaii faced 30 previous attempts to legalize euthanasia before this year’s onslaught of five bills, and New York had 12 before this year’s three bills.
Lawmakers in only five states—Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, and Colorado—have legalized assisted suicide. The Council of the District of Columbia approved a law last year, but federal lawmakers could overturn that measure.
Meanwhile, Alabama adopted a ban on any form of aid in dying in June, and New York’s high court refused to legalize physician-assisted suicide earlier this month.” (Excerpted from World Magazine, reporting by Samantha Gobba.)