Physician-Assisted Death: Where Do You Stand?

January 12, 2017

With the passage of its "death with dignity" bill this past election cycle, Colorado became the sixth state in the United States to allow physicians to legally prescribe a lethal drug to a terminally ill patient who requests it and self-administers it.

Among physicians, acceptance of the idea of physician-assisted death is increasing steadily. Fifty-seven percent of physicians now say they believe physician-assisted death should be available to terminally ill patients, up from 54% in 2014 and 46% in 2010, according to the Medscape Ethics Report 2016 on end-of-life and other hot-button issues.

A growing number of medical societies, including the California Medical Association, have dropped their opposition to the practice and instead have adopted a neutral stance.

Physicians who support such measures typically say they believe it ends needless suffering. Physicians opposed to the practice often cite religious, ethical, or moral reasons, saying they believe it violates the Hippocratic oath of "first do no harm."

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