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Letter: Irrefutable data support physician aid-in-dying

Irrefutable data support physician aid-in-dying

In a letter opposing physician aid-in-dying (PAD), the author wrote, “we must protect human life at all stages.” I wish she had chosen a more clearly defined verb in context, seeing life in more than the physical model and ceding value based decision-making capacity to the one whose life it is.

She does not advance her position by conflating her position with the American Medical Association’s consideration of changing its opposition on the issue to one of neutrality. Currently representing fewer than 45 percent of physicians, historically the AMA has not been in the vanguard of progressivism, initially opposing workers’ compensation, health care insurance, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

That said, its willingness to debate and reconsider its position of opposition to PAD reflects changing ethical and cultural mores in the public at large and among its members, mirroring the action of the California Medical Association. Indeed, in a national Gallup poll, more than 70 percent of those surveyed favored decriminalizing the practice, a figure mirrored by polling in New York State.

With nearly 20 years’ experience in five states demonstrating effective safeguards against abuse with no erosion of trust in those professionals who choose to participate, irrefutable data support the practice of PAD in allowing competent, terminally ill people to dictate to the extent possible the circumstances of their leave-taking without punishment to them or their caregivers. Sharing a common outcome as we do, the choice of path to it is worthy of consideration by us all.

Robert Milch, M.D.


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