AMA releases position on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide

5 Dec 2016

After a comprehensive year-long policy review by the AMA, including a survey of AMA members, the AMA has released its updated Position Statement on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide 2016. It replaces the Position Statement on the Role of the Medical Practitioner in End of Life Care 2007 (Amended 2014). The core message of the statement is that there needs to be a much greater investment in quality end of life care, especially national consistent palliative care services.

The AMA Position Statement on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide 2016 states that:

  • The AMA believes that doctors should not be involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life. This does not include the discontinuation of treatments that are of no medical benefit to a dying patient. 
  • The AMA recognises there are divergent views within the medical profession and the broader community in relation to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. 
  • The AMA acknowledges that laws in relation to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are ultimately a matter for society and government. 
  • If governments decide that laws should be changed to allow for the practice of euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide, the medical profession must be involved in the development of relevant legislation, regulations and guidelines which protect:
    • all doctors acting within the law;
    • vulnerable patients – such as those who may be coerced or be susceptible to undue influence, or those who may consider themselves to be a burden to their families, carers or society;
    • patients and doctors who do not want to participate; and
    • the functioning of the health system as a whole.
  • Any change to the laws in relation to euthanasia and/or physician assisted suicide must never compromise the provision and resourcing of end of life care and palliative care services. 
  • Doctors are advised to always act within the law to help their patients achieve a dignified and comfortable death. 

Read full media release

Read AMA Position Statement on Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide 2016