MMS Testimony In Opposition To H.1991, An Act Affirming a Terminally Ill Patient’s Right to Compassionate Aid in Dying

Before the Joint Committee on Public Health

The Medical Society wishes to be recorded in opposition to H. 1991, “An Act Affirming a Terminally Ill Patient’s Right to Compassionate Aid in Dying.”

The Medical Society has long-standing policy in opposition to physician-assisted suicide. Like the debate today, there remains great passion expressed by both sides of this issue within our membership.

As the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics states, “It is understandable although tragic, that some patients in extreme duress…may come to decide that death is preferable to life. However, allowing physicians to participate in assisted suicide would cause more harm than good. Physician assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer. Instead of participating in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life… in order that these patients continue to receive emotional support, comfort care, adequate pain control, respect for patient autonomy, and good communication.”

What is very clear to all is that there needs to be great compassion for our patients who suffer from terminal and debilitating diseases. The Society is committed to providing physicians treating terminally-ill patients with the ethical, medical, social, and legal education, training, and resources to enable them to contribute to the comfort and dignity of our patients and their families.

The Medical Society would also like to go on record in opposition to the level of disclosure and the documentation in the patient’s medical record when a physician does not participate in assisted suicide. There are long standing protocols for any patient handoff or transfer and these requirements only serve to disrupt the physician patient relationship and further takes away from direct patient interface, consultation and treatment. The Society also has concerns about safe storage and disposal of the dangerous medication, proof of residency provisions, and witness requirements. 

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