Physician-Assisted Death Destroys Medical Ethics, Writes Editor of Medical Journal

TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 21, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The core tenet of the Oath of Hippocrates—that physicians are healers, never killers—has been largely rejected and replaced by a more modern version, writes Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., in the winter issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Huntoon is an independent neurologist practicing in upstate New York and editor-in-chief of the Journal.

In contrast to the ancient oath, only 14 percent of modern oaths prohibit euthanasia, and all but 8 percent permit abortion, Dr. Huntoon writes.

With physician opposition blunted, 18 states were considering laws to allow physician-assisted suicide in 2015. It is already legal in Washington State, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, California, and the District of Columbia, Dr. Huntoon writes.

In addition to physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, he notes. Canada has not only legalized physician-assisted suicide, but in some provinces, physicians or medical facilities may be punished for refusing to participate.

“Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are initially sold to the public as completely voluntary acts of compassion and ‘death with dignity,’” writes Dr. Huntoon, but “once in place, the next step is coercion.”

“The elderly and those suffering from severe debilitating illnesses, who may be depressed and lonely and who may not have the will or the energy to fight back to preserve their lives, are at risk,” Dr. Huntoon warns. “And if experience in other countries with physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is any indication, those eligible for death-by-physician will expand to include the healthy and the very young as well.”

“Death by the numbers” could result, as electronic medical records enable the government to “score” patients on the basis of their cost and worth to society, Huntoon observes, citing China’s new “social credit rating” as an example.

Supposedly stringent safeguards “are often violated with impunity by physicians who are intent on killing patients,” he notes. According to three judges of the Supreme Court of Ireland, there is a high incidence of non-voluntary “euthanasia.”

Dr. Huntoon cautions that if the American Medical Association (AMA) changes its long-standing opposition to a neutral stance, more physician-assisted death bills will probably pass. He concludes that “trust in physicians and in the patient-doctor relationship is being irreparably harmed by these pro-death initiatives.”

The AAPS position, affirmed in 2003, upholds the sanctity of human life: “The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons supports the right to life of all human beings from the moment of conception to natural death.”

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.


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