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American College of Physicians opposes euthanasia

20 September 2017

The body representing 152,000 physicians reaffirmed its opposition to assisted suicide. 

It raises ethical, clinical, and other concerns. 

The American College of Physicians (ACP) does not support the legalisation of physician assisted suicide, according to a position paper published yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It reaffirms the position taken by the body which represents 152,000 internal medicine specialists. 

Strong opposition

The paper acknowledges that "Many people have concerns about how they will die and the emphasis by medicine and society on intervention and cure has sometimes come at the expense of good end-of-life care." However, it concludes: "On the basis of substantive ethics, clinical practice, policy, and other concerns, the ACP does not support legalization of physician-assisted suicide."

ACP's concerns include the effect the practise has on the physician-patient relationship and on trust in the profession, and that it fundamentally alters the role of the profession in society.

What is the goal of medicine?

Significantly, the paper contests one of the main arguments of the assisted suicide lobby - the importance of controlling how and when one dies. "Control over the manner and timing of a person's death," it says, "has not been and should not be a goal of medicine."

Instead, they promote palliative care. "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 news comes as two Australian territories, New South Wales and Victoria, prepare to debate assisted suicide bills this week

News in brief:

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