In early June, the American Medical Association (AMA) decided not to reaffirm its position against medical aid in dying, which it has held since 1993. A recommendation by its Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) that the AMA maintain its opposition was rejected in June, with delegates at the annual meeting in Chicago instead voting for the organization to continue reviewing its stance on the issue.
Following a debate, the House of Delegates voted by a margin of 56 to 44 percent to have the CEJA keep studying the current guidance, which labels the practice “physician-assisted suicide” and calls it “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”
This is encouraging progress since the AMA House of Delegates voted two years ago to refer Resolution 015 – Study aid-in-dying as end-of-life option – to the AMA Board of Trustees in light of the continuing evolution of thinking in this area. The council spent two years reviewing resolutions on whether to take a neutral stance on the increasingly accepted practice. The group’s report sought to find consensus, noting, “Where one physician understands providing the means to hasten death to be an abrogation of the physician’s fundamental role as healer that forecloses any possibility of offering care that respects dignity, another in equally good faith understands supporting a patient’s request for aid in hastening a foreseen death to be an expression of care and compassion.”