The AMA and Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide
The American Medical Association (AMA) has long been known for its strong views. As the issue of euthanasia, particularly doctor-assisted suicide, has come to the forefront, the AMA has taken a strong position on this controversial subject also. This time the AMA has taken a firm stand for preserving, not terminating, the life of the elderly/handicapped/depressed/mentally ill, etc. patient. This essay will explain in detail the stand of this influential group of doctors.
The AMA filed an amicus brief in the 9th Circuit case regarding doctor-assisted suicide. In this brief, the AMA stated, "There is, in short, compelling evidence of the need to ensure that all patients have access to quality palliative care, but not of any need for physician-assisted suicide ..." The AMA is keenly aware that doctors perform a crucial act of healing and saving life. Accepting a dual role of taking life, while at the same time protecting life, would undermine their credibility and the sacred trust that exists between a patient and doctor.
Thus the AMA has recently announced the implementation of the Institute for Ethics. The goal of this entity within the AMA will be to educate 10% of its member doctors (estimated to be 20,000) on hospice and palliative care. Further, they believe that providing responsible alternative treatment to ending life will all but eliminate the quest for euthanasia. This aggressive new project will be headed by Linda Emanuel, Professor of Bioethics at Harvard. The two-year pilot program is funded by a 2-million-dollar grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Ironically, this foundation is also well known for aggressive pro-abortion funding. However, in addition to assisting the Institute for Ethics, it has also funded other hospice and palliative care efforts.
Serving as a senior consultant on the project is Carlos F. Gomez, MD, PhD. Dr Gomez, a native of Havana, Cuba, is currently Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. His major role with the Institute will be as a spokesman and public speaker. He will also advise Professor Emanuel and others on its organization and future plans. According to Gomez, ignorance and fear is driving the euthanasia debate. Their goal is to educate more doctors to alternatives to doctor-assisted suicide. This will be done by conducting regional meetings for doctors around the nation. During these meetings Dr Gomez and others will provide intensive training in pain control, compassionate care and alleviation of fears. It is their hope that the educated doctors will in turn enlighten their colleagues and communities regarding effective palliative care.
The AMA is aware of many of its physicians' shortcomings regarding pain and palliative care. In its amicus brief the AMA...