A few hours ago the World Medical Association reaffirmed its opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
This is highly significant, since the World Medical Association is the largest medical society in the world,
encompassing 114 nations and their national medical organisations
(including the US) representing over 10 million physicians worldwide.
The organisation was established "to ensure the independence of physicians, and to work for the highest possible
standards of ethical behaviour and care by physicians, at all times", which was particularly important to physicians
after the Second World War.
After an intensive process of consultation with physicians and non physicians around the world, the WMA at its annual
Assembly in Tbilisi, Georgia, adopted a revised Declaration on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide.
This states: ‘The WMA reiterates its strong commitment to the principles of medical ethics and that utmost respect has
to be maintained for human life. Therefore, the WMA is firmly opposed to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.’
It adds: ‘No physician should be forced to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide, nor should any physician be
obliged to make referral decisions to this end.’
The Declaration says: ‘Separately, the physician who respects the basic right of the patient to decline medical
treatment does not act unethically in forgoing or withholding unwanted care, even if respecting such a wish results in
the death of the patient.’
The revised Declaration defines euthanasia as ‘a physician deliberately administering a lethal substance or carrying out
an intervention to cause the death of a patient with decision-making capacity at the patient’s own voluntary request.’
It says that physician-assisted suicide ‘refers to cases in which, at the voluntary request of a patient with
decision-making capacity, a physician deliberately enables a patient to end his or her own life by prescribing or
providing medical substances with the intent to bring about death.’
WMA Chair Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery said: ‘Having held consultative conferences involving every continent in the
world, we believe that this revised wording is in accord with the views of most physicians worldwide.’