Doctors Oppose Doctor-Prescribed Suicide
Contrary to what you may hear from suicide advocates, the medical establishment is strongly opposed to Doctor-Prescribed Suicide. Most doctors and nurses are worried about the pressure that will be put on patients to exercise their “choice” to kill themselves. They are also concerned about the ways their professions will be changed in important and irrevocable ways. Before we change several thousand years of medical custom and tradition shouldn’t we hear what doctors have to say about it?
The Massachusetts Medical Society is on record opposing Question 2 in 2012 as well as previous attempts to legalize DPS.
Here is a statement from the Massachusetts Medical Society Website:
Question 2: Prescribing Medication to End Life
September 14, 2012
The Massachusetts Medical Society opposes this ballot question.
On November 6, Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity to vote on Question 2, “Prescribing Medication to End Life.”
We are opposed to Question 2 for these reasons:
- The proposed safeguards against abuse are insufficient. Enforcement provisions, investigation authority, oversight, or data verification are not included in the act. A witness to the patient’s signed request could also be an heir.
- Assisted suicide is not necessary to improve the quality of life at the end of life. Current law gives every patient the right to refuse lifesaving treatment, and to have adequate pain relief, including hospice and palliative sedation.
- Predicting the end of life within six months is difficult; sometimes the prediction is not accurate. From time to time, patients expected to be within months of their death have gone on to live many more months – or years. In one study, 17 percent of patients outlived their prognosis.
- Doctors should not participate in assisted suicide. The chief policy making body of the Massachusetts Medical Society has voted to oppose physician assisted suicide.
The Massachusetts Medical Society has reaffirmed its commitment to provide physicians treating terminally ill patients with the ethical, medical, social, and legal education, training, and resources to enable them to contribute to the comfort and dignity of the patient and the patient’s family.
Lynda M. Young, MD, MMS past president, testified about the MMS policy at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on March 6, 2012:
“Allowing physicians to participate in assisted suicide would cause more harm than good. Physician assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer. “Instead of participating in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life. … Patients must continue to receive emotional support, comfort care, adequate pain control, respect for patient autonomy, and good communication.”
Also on record against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide are the Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians, and the Massachusetts Osteopathic Society.
Of the many medical groups apposed to Doctor-Prescribed Suicide the most prominent is perhaps the American medical Association.
From the website of the AMA:
Opinion 2.211 – Physician-Assisted Suicide
Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician facilitates a patient’s death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act (eg, the physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide).
It is understandable, though tragic, that some patients in extreme duress–such as those suffering from a terminal, painful, debilitating illness–may come to decide that death is preferable to life. However, allowing physicians to participate in assisted suicide would cause more harm than good. Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.
Instead of participating in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life. Patients should not be abandoned once it is determined that cure is impossible. Multidisciplinary interventions should be sought including specialty consultation, hospice care, pastoral support, family counseling, and other modalities. Patients near the end of life must continue to receive emotional support, comfort care, adequate pain control, respect for patient autonomy, and good communication.