At its 70th General Assembly in Tbilisi, Georgia, the World Medical Association (WMA) reiterated that both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide violate “the principles of medical ethics.”
The organization defined in a revised statement—following an intense process of analysis and consultation with practitioners and non-physicians around the world—that the primary mission of health professionals is to focus on and “maintain the utmost respect for human life.”
“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,” the association stated.
The WMA noted, “No physician should be forced to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide,” or compelled to “make referral decisions” on such matters.
It will be considered “ethical” to let a patient die, if they so request
However, WMA argues—in apparent contradiction to the principles outlined and showing a possible Overton window—that the physician must respect the patient’s “basic right” to “decline medical treatment” and that withdrawing care and leaving the patient to die will not be considered an “unethical” act for a physician.
The statement also said 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.”
It also defined 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.”
“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,” said the president of the international organization, Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, according to the WMA website.
According to reports, the World Medical Association is an International confederation of professional associations of physicians, supported by major pharmaceutical corporations such as Bayer, Eli Lilli and Company, Glaxo Smith Kline or Pfizer, the U.N. and the WHO.