Human Exceptionalism

Montana Medical Association Cop Out on Physician-Assisted Suicide

The coalition against assisted suicide is made up of many branches that constitute a rare alliance among people on all sides of the ideological and religious/secular divides that are literally tearing this country and much of Western Civilization apart. Thus, disability rights activists–generally secular, politically liberal, and pro choice on abortion–work energetically with pro life activists on the issue, while agreeing to leave the abortion issue alone. Medical professional organizations and doctors–generally pro choice on abortion–work with Catholic Church on this issue, despite bitterly disagreeing on issues such as contraception. You get the drift.

But I have been worrying in recent years that some physicians groups and doctors don’t take this issue with sufficient seriousness–and indeed as I have noted, one of the tactics of the pro assisted suicide forces is to get medical leaders to assume an attitude of “studied neutrality” to legalization. My concern in this regard was heightened by the quotes from the head of the Montana Medical Association published in the American Medical News about the Montana judge imposing a constitutional right to assisted suicide. From the story:

American Medical Association policy opposes physician-assisted suicide because the practice is “fundamentally inconsistent with the physician’s role as healer.” Officials with the Montana Medical Assn. said the organization has no policy on doctor-aided dying and will not file an amicus brief when the case is appealed.

The AMA usually does not join state litigation unless the state medical society asks for help. MMA officials said they had no plans to request the AMA to file a brief. MMA President Kirk L. Stoner, MD, said the society would get involved only if its members or the Supreme Court asks it to weigh in.

Physician-assisted suicide “is not something we’ve discussed recently,” Dr. Stoner said. “We don’t have a real reason to get involved right now. There are bigger fish to fry.”

What bigger fish could there possibly be to “fry” than whether doctors should be relieved from homicide laws in order to help kill their patients? Unless, I guess, one believes that venerable medical ethics don’t matter all that much.

If the MMA hasn’t discussed the issue lately, it sure should now! With a signature of one judge’s pen, it is literally off of the doorstep and in the parlor. What could be more important for the MMA to discuss? Such terminal nonjudgmentalism is an abdication of professional responsibility. Disgraceful.


The Latest