Virtual Mentor. January 2005, Volume 7, Number 1.
Case 5.2: Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia—Mrs. Scott's Plan for the Future
Related topic: Euthanasia
Euthanasia, a cousin to physician-assisted suicide, is also prohibited by the Code.
There may be cases where a patient's pain and suffering are not reduced to tolerable levels and the patient requests a physician's help to die. If a physician cannot ease the pain and suffering of a patient by means short of death, using medical expertise to aid an "easy" death may seem to be the humane and appropriate treatment for the patient. But the prohibition against medically killing patients is a strong and lasting tradition in medical ethics that is based upon a professional commitment to healing.
Weakening the prohibition against euthanasia, even in the most compelling situations, has troubling implications. Though the magnitude of such risks are impossible to predict accurately, the medical profession and society as a whole must not consider these risks lightly. Condoning euthanasia by physicians might undermine public trust in medicine's dedication to preserving the life and health of patients. Moreover, in a society that condones euthanasia, some patients may fear the prospect of involuntary or nonvoluntary euthanasia if they think their lives are no longer deemed valuable by others.
The people and events in this case are fictional. Resemblance to real events or to names of people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.
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