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Euthanasia – AMA position ambiguous

17 Jan 2017

Dear Editor

I am concerned that the AMA position on voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, as outlined in Australian Medicine on 21 November 2016, and as reported in The Australian, 24 November, seems ambiguous.

In my view a strong statement is needed that euthanasia contravenes the AMA Code of Ethics and will not be supported.

It is my long-held view that Australian doctors should take no part in actively assisting patient suicides. It contravenes long-held codes of ethics, and threatens to disturb the trust patients have in their doctors.

Doctors and nurses have long practiced a form of passive euthanasia, where futile active treatments are withdrawn and terminal patients are given liberal doses of narcotic to sedate and relieve pain. The intent is the key. When the intent is to kill the patient we enter very dangerous ground, a point of no return.

If physician assisted suicide is sanctioned by the AMA then I will immediately resign my membership, held for 40 years.

Dr R S Williams FRACS FRCS, semi-retired surgeon

Published: 17 Jan 2017