Yesterday, at its annual meeting in Chicago, the American Medical Association (AMA) rejected a Louisiana State Medical Society proposal to reaffirm the AMA's long-standing policy against physician assisted suicide. Instead it approved a study-resolution to explore AMA adoption of a neutral position on physician assisted suicide, which was often referred to as "aid-in-dying" in the debate.
The study will be led by the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, which will study a possible change to the AMA policy and report back with recommendations to the AMA Annual Meeting next year.
Dr. Jeff White, a member of the Louisiana State Medical Society and physician ally of Louisiana Right to Life, said the following after the AMA vote:
AMA's decision to study a possible change in position on doctor-prescribed suicide is very concerning for the future of the integrity of the medical profession. For millennia, the medical profession has been in unison that physicians prescribing death for their patients is antithetical to the mission of healing integral to the role of a physician. If the AMA changes it long-standing policy of opposition to doctor-prescribed suicide, it will provide justification for proponents in their push to legalize this dangerous and uncontrollable policy.
"I encourage physicians, state medical societies, disability rights organizations, and all people concerned about the adverse consequences that could result from a change in the AMA's policies to submit, at the appropriate time, their concerns to the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. A bad decision by AMA on this could have a lasting negative impact on how medicine is practiced, the doctor patient relationship of trust, and the true autonomy of underprivileged persons."