Joni and Friends Blog
The AMA Reaffirms Its Stance Against Physician-Assisted Suicide
We applaud the American Medical Association (AMA) for reaffirming its stance against physician-assisted suicide at their annual meeting in Chicago this June. As their Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 5.7 states, “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.” Indeed! Doctors are trained to be healers, not killers.
However, the struggle within the AMA around physician assisted suicide continues, with the Medical Student Section endorsing a resolution to weaken their stance to “engaged neutrality.” If the next generation of medical professionals surrenders on this issue, we fear for the sick, weak, and medically fragile individuals – especially those with disabilities – who will be at increased risk. After all, if killing patients is an option, how can we trust doctors to do all they can to heal us?
As Steve Bundy, Senior Vice President of the Christian Institute on Disability, and father to a son with multiple disabilities says, “The slippery slope in our society of basing the value of someone’s life on what they can do is dangerous. Helping to kill someone because they are in pain or feel isolated normalizes murder and people with disabilities will become targets.”
Dr. Shane Macaulay addressed the AMA with these chilling words: “Oregon legalized assisted suicide in 1997 with repeated assurances that it would stay contained and not become euthanasia. Just last month, the Oregon State House of Representatives approved a bill to allow patient death by lethal injection, showing the inevitable progression from assisted suicide to euthanasia once physicians have accepted the idea that taking a patient’s life is permissible. In Canada, assisted suicide and euthanasia were legalized only three years ago, and in the three years since we’ve debated this topic here, euthanasia has become a runaway contagion in Canada, with over 4,000 deaths last year.”
This is what happens when humans play God. A biblical worldview affirms God’s sovereignty and looks for His (often mysterious) redemptive purposes in our suffering. As the Christian Medical and Dental Association says in its position statement on physician assisted suicide, “human life is a gift from God and is sacred because it bears God’s image. Human life has worth because Christ died to redeem it, and it has meaning because God has an eternal purpose for it. We oppose active intervention with the intent to produce death for the relief of pain, suffering, or economic considerations, or for the convenience of patient, family, or society.”
The alternative to physician assisted suicide is good medical care. Physicians can be pillars of support to those at the end of life, providing good palliative care that alleviates pain and other symptoms of suffering, allowing patients to die with dignity.
All medical professionals need our prayer and support, to stand for life in a culture that increasingly embraces death.
The Christian Institute on Disability exists to impact the Church, Christian and public institutions, and societies with a biblical worldview and life-giving truth on issues pertaining to life, dignity, justice, and equality that affect people with disabilities.