Viewpoint: Physician-assisted suicide 'can never be medical care'

Physician-assisted suicide should not be considered a medical treatment, as it would threaten patients' safety and break their trust with physicians, Matt Vallière, executive director of the Patients' Rights Action Fund, wrote in an op-ed for The HIll.

Here are four things to know:

1. Mr. Vallière said physician-assisted suicide "can never be medical care," since it undermines "the integrity of the medical profession" and "puts everyone living in jurisdictions with legal assisted suicide at risk of deadly harm through mistakes, abuse and coercion," according to the article.

2. He believes assisted suicide is an unnecessary practice, since medical advances in end-of-life and palliative care have significantly reduced patients' physical suffering. In Washington, D.C., where physician assisted suicide is legalized, only two of 11,000 physicians agreed to prescribe medically-assisted suicide to their patients, according to Mr. Vallière.

3.The op-ed comes the same week the American Medical Association's House of Delegates is set to vote on revisions for its Code of Medical Ethics, which outlines the group's current stance on physician-assisted suicide: "Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.

4. Mr. Vallière anticipates the AMA will maintain this stance on assisted suicide, following in the footsteps of the American College of Physicians, which formally opposed the practice last year.

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