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Euthanasia Essay: The AMA and Assisted Suicide

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.

WORKDS CITED:

AMA Institute For Ethics

http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/2559.html

Rebutting Arguments to Legalize Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide

Rebutting Arguments to Legalize Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide

This essay focuses on several of the most common arguments in favor of the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide – and rebuts them. The language is simple, or, as they say, in layman’s terms so as to be easily understandable. The sources are from professional journals, internet websites, and news outlets.

The first common argument favoring euthanasia or assisted suicide is this: “Since euthanasia and assisted suicide take place anyway, isn’t it better to legalize them so they’ll be practiced under careful guidelines and so that doctors will have to report these activities?” That sounds good but it doesn’t work. Physicians who do not follow the “guidelines” will not report and, even when a physician does report information, there is no way to know if it is accurate or complete. For example, the Oregon law requires the Oregon Health Division (OHD) to collect information and publish an annual statistical report about assisted suicide deaths.(Oregon) However, the law contains no penalties for health care providers who fail to report information to the OHD. Moreover, the OHD has no regulatory authority or resources to ensure submission of information to its office.(Prager) Thus, all information contained in the OHD’s official reports is that which has been provided by the physicians who prescribed the lethal drugs and only that which the physicians choose to provide.

The OHD even admitted that reporting physicians may have fabricated their versions of the circumstances surrounding the prescriptions written for patients. “For that matter, the entire account could have been a cock-and-bull story. We assume, however, that physicians wer…

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…19, conducted by Hebert Research, October 31, 1991, and within one week following the November 5, 1991 vote. Five days before the vote only 9.7 percent of those opposing the measure cited religious reasons for their opposition. Following the measure’s defeat, individuals who had previously indicated support for Initiative 119 were again surveyed. Of these previous supporters, 15 percent subsequently opposed the initiative. Religious reasons accounted for only 6.1 percent of this eventual opposition.

Transcript from audio tape of “On Target,” WVON Radio (Chicago). Debate between Rita Marker and T. Patrick Hill, September 26, 1993.

Van der Wal,G. P. J. van der Maas, J. M. Bosma, et al., “Evaluation of the notification procedure for physician-assisted deaths in the Netherlands,” 335 New England Journal of Medicine (November 28, 1996), p. 1706.

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