World Medical Association, Statement on Physician-Assisted Suicide (1992).
|Adopted by the 44th
World Medical Assembly
Marbella, Spain, September 1992
|Instances of physician-assisted suicide
have recently become the focus of public attention. These instances involve
the use of a machine, invented by the physician who instructs the individual
in its use. The individual thereby is assisted in committing suicide. In
other instances the physician has provided medication to the individual
with information as to the amount of dosage that would be lethal. The individual
is thereby provided with the means for committing suicide. To be sure, the
individuals involved were seriously ill, perhaps even terminally ill, and
were wracked with pain. Furthermore, the individuals were apparently competent
and made their own decision to commit suicide. Patients contemplating suicide
are frequently expressing the depression that accompanies terminal illness.
Physician-assisted suicide, like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession. Where the assistance of the physician is intentionally and deliberately directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life, the physician acts unethically. However the right to decline medical treatment is a basic right of the patient and the physician does not act unethically even if respecting such a wish results in the death of the patient.