The American Medical Association and the AOA currently oppose physician-assisted death, also known as physician-assisted suicide. However, as public and state support for it continues to grow, both organizations are considering whether their positions should change.
In 2016, an AMA council was tasked with reviewing the group’s official policy. Last week, at the AMA House of Delegates, the council advised keeping the policy as is, but instead of approving its recommendations, delegates voted to refer them back to the council for further review. The action came after much debate on the AMA’s House floor, according to the Chicago Tribune, with just 56 percent of delegates voting for referral.
Revised AOA policy on the horizon?
The AOA’s policy on physician-assisted death states that the association opposes laws that legalize physician participation in ending a patient’s life. Last year, the AOA’s House of Delegates voted for the association to research physician-assisted death and make recommendations on whether the AOA’s position should evolve.
The AOA’s End of Life Policy Task Force is now advising the AOA House of Delegates to approve a revised policy on physician-assisted death, which the AOA House will consider next month.
The revised policy maintains opposition to legalizing physician-assisted death, but adds a note that physicians who choose to help their patients end their lives shouldn’t be discriminated against so long as physician-assisted death is legal where they practice.
Read the entire proposed policy here.
Where physician-assisted death is allowed
Physician-assisted death is now legal in Colorado, Washington, DC, Washington state, Oregon, Vermont and Montana, according to deathwithdignity.org. It will be legal in Hawaii starting next year. Physician-assisted death became legal in California in 2016; it was recently challenged in court, but remains legal as of June 18, 2018. In the past several years, a number of additional states have introduced legislation to legalize physician-assisted death.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans support the legalization of physician-assisted death, according to a Gallop poll conducted in May 2018.