End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

American Public Health Association Supports Aid in Dyingby Sonja

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The American Public Health Association published its adopted policy supporting Oregon-style aid-in-dying laws.

Submitted by Kathryn Tucker, Legal Affairs Director for Compassion & Choices, the policy was adopted on October 28, 2008, after two years of extended consideration, debate, discussion and some strong opposition. After fully and carefully considered all the arguments APHA voted in favor of the policy by a 58 percent margin.

The APHA carefully reviewed Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, and the evidence that it has caused no harm to patients, including those considered to be in vulnerable populations. The group also reviewed evidence that the Death with Dignity Act has significantly improved end-of-life care in Oregon and prevents covert, back-alley practices.

The organization becomes the fourth national major medical association – and the largest – to examine Oregon’s Death with Dignity experience and adopt policy supporting it.

Tucker applauded the public health leaders for supporting patient choice at the end of life. “The adoption of policy supporting aid in dying by the APHA reflects a growing trend of support among mainstream medical and health policy organizations, recognizing the importance of this compassionate option,” she said. “APHA’s support for aid in dying should be influential as other states consider making this option legal.”

In its published policy the APHA “Supports allowing a mentally competent, terminally ill adult to obtain a prescription for medication that the person could self-administer to control the time, place, and manner of his or her impending death, where safeguards equivalent to those in the Oregon DDA are in place.”

Read the full policy here.