Earlier this month, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association (AMA) voted down multiple efforts to withdraw the organization’s opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia. This is a victory for the cause of life, and is cause for thanksgiving.
Currently, the AMA “strongly opposes any bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia” and holds that assisted suicide “is fundamentally inconsistent with the physician’s professional role.” Advocates of assisted suicide sought to remove this language and to change the organization’s policy on assisted suicide from opposition to neutrality. Thanks to the efforts of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the Catholic Medical Association, and Patients Rights Action Fund, this attempt has failed. Advocates of assisted suicide made previous attempts to change the AMA’s policy in 2016 and 2018.
In addition, the House of Delegates voted to set aside two potentially harmful proposals for additional study. Those proposed policies would: (a) oppose criminal penalties for medical professionals who assist patients in committing suicide; and (b) substitute the phrase “medical aid in dying” for the phrase “physician-assisted suicide.”
Assisted suicide occurs when a person is provided with the means to take his or her own life, while euthanasia occurs when a person takes the life of another. Euthanasia is currently illegal in the United States, while assisted suicide is legal in 10 states. Assisted suicide advocates would love nothing better than to make New York the 11th state to legalize this sickening practice. For the past eight years, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and like-minded organizations have successfully worked to block the legalization of physician-assisted death. We are thankful for our alliance partners in the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide (NYAAAS) who stand with us on this important issue.
Legalizing assisted suicide would open a can of dangerous worms. Vulnerable patients could be coerced and abused, the circumstances when assisted suicide is available could be broadened, and patients with terminal illnesses could feel that they have a “duty to die” to avoid becoming a burden to others.
Human beings, including medical personnel, should never play God. All human life is valuable. Rather than offering assisted suicide to the terminally ill, compassionate medical personnel should provide effective treatment and pain management. Instead of helping people die, we should help them live.