Faith

America's Physicians Take a Stand Against Euthanasia

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Finally, some good news. Facing down the ever-encroaching anti-ethics of progressivism that signal death and chaos, American doctors have taken a stand for life. In a paper titled “Ethics and the Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide: An American College of Physicians Position Paper,” the American College of Physicians has drawn a firm line in the sand about euthanasia.

In the paper, the American College of Physicians “reaffirmed its opposition to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and affirmed a professional responsibility to improve the care of dying patients.”

This is good news since there is an increase in calls at the state level to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The American College of Physicians represents over 152,000 doctors; this is not small stand against euthanasia. Politicians are sure to take note. Published on September 19, the paper unequivocally states, “On the basis of substantive ethics, clinical practice, policy, and other concerns articulated in this position paper, the ACP does not support legalization of physician-assisted suicide.” The statement went on to say, “It is problematic given the nature of the patient–physician relationship, affects trust in the relationship and in the profession, and fundamentally alters the medical profession’s role in society. Furthermore, the principles at stake in this debate also underlie medicine’s responsibilities regarding other issues and the physician’s duties to provide care based on clinical judgment, evidence, and ethics. Society’s focus at the end of life should be on efforts to address suffering and the needs of patients and families, including improving access to effective hospice and palliative care. The ACP remains committed to improving care for patients throughout and at the end of life.”

The organization published a paper in 2001 stating their opposition to physician-assisted suicide, but they’ve found that many Americans today are unfamiliar with palliative care. The new paper updates the language and, “discusses the role of palliative and hospice care, explores the nature of the patient-physician relationship and the critical distinction between refusal of life-sustaining treatment and physician-assisted suicide, and provides recommendations to physicians for responding to patient requests for physician-assisted suicide, recognizing that some individual cases will be medically and ethically challenging.”

Most recently, the State of New York struck down a lawsuit asking for euthanasia to be legalized. At the moment, only five states have legalize physician-assisted suicide: California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. The paper published by the American College of Physicians recognizes that “U.S. jurisdictions have legalized physician-assisted suicide.” However, according to the organization,

Medical ethics establishes the duties of physicians to patients and society, sometimes to a greater extent than the law. Physicians have duties to patients on the basis of the ethical principles of beneficence (that is, acting in the patient’s best interest), nonmaleficence (avoiding or minimizing harm), respect for patient autonomy, and promotion of fairness and social justice. Medical ethics and the law strongly support a patient’s right to refuse treatment, including life-sustaining treatment. The intent is to avoid or withdraw treatment that the patient judges to be inconsistent with his or her goals and preferences. Death follows naturally, after the refusal, as a result of the underlying disease.

As the rest of the world goes mad, it’s a small comfort knowing that the doctors of America still value life over ideology. And make no mistake, this statement from America’s physicians will carry great weight with lawmakers. What’s more, the Great Physician who offers eternal healing will be pleased.