The World Medical Association (WMA) has reaffirmed its opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, with members adopting a revised Declaration on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide at its annual assembly in Georgia at the weekend.
It follows an intensive process of consultation with physicians and non-physicians around the world.
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." 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.”
The declaration states “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.”
“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 WMA Council Chair Dr Frank Ulrich Montgomery.