Euthanasia Essay: The AMA and Assisted Suicide

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The AMA and Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide

The American Medical Association (AMA) has long been known for its strong views. As the issue of euthanasia, particularly doctor-assisted suicide, has come to the forefront, the AMA has taken a strong position on this controversial subject also. This time the AMA has taken a firm stand for preserving, not terminating, the life of the elderly/handicapped/depressed/mentally ill, etc. patient. This essay will explain in detail the stand of this influential group of doctors.

The AMA filed an amicus brief in the 9th Circuit case regarding doctor-assisted suicide. In this brief, the AMA stated, "There is, in short, compelling evidence of the need to ensure that all patients have access to quality palliative care, but not of any need for physician-assisted suicide ..." The AMA is keenly aware that doctors perform a crucial act of healing and saving life. Accepting a dual role of taking life, while at the same time protecting life, would undermine their credibility and the sacred trust that exists between a patient and doctor.

Thus the AMA has recently announced the implementation of the Institute for Ethics. The goal of this entity within the AMA will be to educate 10% of its member doctors (estimated to be 20,000) on hospice and palliative care. Further, they believe that providing responsible alternative treatment to ending life will all but eliminate the quest for euthanasia. This aggressive new project will be headed by Linda Emanuel, Professor of Bioethics at Harvard. The two-year pilot program is funded by a 2-million-dollar grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Ironically, this foundation is also well known for aggressive pro-abortion funding. However,...

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...ertaking. They are convinced that when patients are offered a reasonable alternative, they will reject euthanasia. "The other side is preying on fear and anxiety," said Dr Gomez. "When you attack that fear directly, you take the steam out of the other side's arguments."

The program is expected to be up and running in six to eight months. It will take that amount of time to train the needed speakers and get things organized. It is too early to tell if the Institute will be involved in sponsoring and promoting anti-euthanasia legislation on the state or national level. However, the Institute for Ethics plans to set the tone for the AMA whenever it speaks on this issue -- a powerful and influential voice in America's medical communities.


AMA Institute For Ethics
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