“However, permitting physicians to engage in euthanasia would ultimately cause more harm than good.”
The IAHPC, a leading international organization in the area of palliative care, has recently declared in an article published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, that it is against euthanasia. also American Medical Association and World Medical Association have issued similar statements.Its statements can be summarized in 4 points:
IAHPC statements can be summarized in 4 points:
- Violation of medical ethics in both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS).”Throughout the world, physicians are trained to provide care and preserve life. Starting with the Hippocratic Oath (“I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel”), professional ethical codes for physicians have clarified that ending life is not part of the tasks of a physician”. The statement, therefore, says that “practicing euthanasia and PAS would violate these professional standards”
Euthanasia, that is the act of deliberately ending the life of a patient, even at the patient’s own request or at the request of close relatives, is unethical”. It adds: “PAS, like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession”.
American Medical Association and World Medical Association have issued similar statements, cited by the IAHPC. The World Medical Association states that “Euthanasia, that is the act of deliberately ending the life of a patient, even at the patient’s own request or at the request of close relatives, is unethical”. It adds: “PAS, like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession. Where the assistance of the physician is intentionally and deliberately directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life, the physician acts unethically”.
- They undermine confidence in doctors. “Within the profession of medicine, the physician-patient relationship is paramount. The IAHPC believes that practices of euthanasia and PAS violate the bond of trust within the medical profession, which is essential to the physician-patient relationship. The IAHPC is concerned that these practices could erode the physician-patient relationship, that patients may be reluctant to receive palliative care treatment for the fear that physicians will hasten death. The IAHPC believes that euthanasia and PAS undermine the integrity of the profession and the dedication to safeguarding human life”.
- Outside the scope of palliative care units. Consistent with the two previous affirmations, the statement says: “In states and countries where euthanasia and/or PAS are legal, the IAHPC agrees that palliative care units should not be responsible for overseeing or administering these practices as doing so would place the professionals, their staff and, in some cases, their patients and families, in untenable positions. The IAHPC also agrees with the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians and Palliative Care Australia, which state that euthanasia and assisted suicide should not be part of palliative care practice“.
- Recognize conscientious objection. For the case of those countries where euthanasia and PAS are already legalized, the IAHPC also states that: “The law or policies should include provisions so that any health professional who objects to assisting in a patient’s death must be allowed to deny participating and to direct that patient to a neutral advocate who can discuss options and arrange a transfer if necessary” (Aceprensa, 7-VII-2017).