The 23,000 members of the Massachusetts Medical Society have voted against physician-assisted suicide. Its House of Delegates voted by a large majority for maintaining a policy the Society has had since 1996. According to the MMS press release: “Opposition to physician-assisted suicide was part of a larger policy statement that includes recognition of patient dignity at the end of life and the physician’s role in caring for terminally-ill patients.”

Lynda Young president of the Society, said: “Physicians of our Society have clearly declared that physician-assisted suicide is inconsistent with the physician’s role as healer and health care provider. At the same time we recognize the importance of patient dignity and the critical role that physicians have in end-of-life care.” 

Dr Young said the policy exceeds a single statement of opposition to physician-assisted suicide to include “support for patient dignity and the alleviation of pain and suffering at the end of life.” She also said it includes the Society’s dedication to “provide physicians treating terminally-ill patients with the ethical, medical, social, and legal education, training, and resources to enable them to contribute to the comfort and dignity of the patient and the patient’s family.”

While the Medical Society has rejected physician-assisted suicide, the right of terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending drugs may have moved closer to getting a place on the state ballot next year. Sponsors of proposals for self-administering these drugs claim they have enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot. ~ Massachusetts Medical Society, Dec 3; CBS Boston, Nov 22

Cross-posted from BioEdge