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Why Medical Professionals Oppose Physician Assisted Suicide

As the State Senate hears testimony regarding SB311, the Physician Assisted Suicide bill, it is important to point out that most medical professionals, doctors, nurses and caregivers, are opposed to this legislation.  As noted by Maryland Against Physician Assisted Suicide, a broad coalition of health care providers, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Nurses Association, have issued statements opposing this legislation.  

Dr. Joseph Marine of Johns Hopkins wrote an Op-Ed in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun in which he noted many of the concerns of the medical community regarding this issue.

For the past five years, advocates of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) have tried and failed to pass legislation that legalizes the practice in Maryland. Proponents of PAS are back again with the same dangerous, unethical, discriminatory, unnecessary and hopelessly flawed bill. As a physician who has been in practice for almost 20 years and has treated thousands of patients in all conditions of life, I urge the legislature and the citizens of Maryland to continue to reject it for many reasons.

PAS, also euphemistically termed “aid-in-dying,” refers to the prescribing of a non-FDA approved lethal overdose of a drug or combination of drugs to a person believed to have a terminal illness. PAS is unethical. It is specifically prohibited by the Hippocratic Oath and opposed by the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the World Medical Association.

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PAS is discriminatory. PAS laws create a new class of human beings denied the protection of the law and of health professionals who are committed to preserving rather than taking life. Suicidal impulses of everyone else in society are treated with crisis intervention. Patients defined under PAS laws are denied such crisis intervention and instead tacitly or explicitly encouraged to take their own lives. Also, almost all disability rights organizations in the United States oppose PAS.

PAS will affect everyone. If we allow this form of euthanasia into our health care system, it will inevitably corrode and destroy the values that define the health professions and lead to public trust in them. PAS has led to wider forms of euthanasia in every country that has adopted it. No one will be immune to its long term corrosive and destructive effects on the health care system.

You can read the whole op-ed at the Baltimore Sun’s website.

We interviewed Dr. Marine who detailed the many flaws with this legislation.  It is worth a listen.

Let’s hope the Maryland State Senate listens to concerns medical professionals like Dr. Marine like they have done in the past and reject this legislation again.


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