Comparably to the AMA, the World Medical Association also advocates for their strong opposition of euthanasia practices, believing that it is nothing but unethical. In its 2005 statement, the WMA council announced that “the act of deliberately ending the life of a patient, even at the patient’s own request or at the request of close relatives, is unethical…and must be condemned by the medical profession” (“WMA – The World Medical Association-WMA Resolution on Euthanasia”). The WMA does believe, however, that it is the right of the patient to refuse medical treatment, even if that means that the patient would die.
There are numerous claims makers who are opposed to euthanasia, including organizations such, Disability Groups Opposed to Assisted Suicide Laws, Patients Rights Council, Choice is an Illusion, California: Seniors Against Suicide, People With Disabilities Opposing Legalized Assisted Suicide, Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, Center for Hospice Care, National Association of Pro Life Nurses, Black Americans for Life, TASH and Care Not Killing, to name a few (Nordqvist). Those who have strong religious views, especially heavy Christian views, are often against euthanasia as well, believing it is unethical and immoral, viewing life as a sacred gift of God that should only be ended in the way He intended it to be ended. The majority of American citizens support the practice of euthanasia, with about 73% of the population in favor of it, according to a Gallup study conducted in 2017; the percentage of supporters has risen from 69% since 2013 and is expected to increase slightly in the future (Gallup, Inc). Those who are the most in favor are Democrats and liberals, with about 89% in favor, contrasted with the 79% moderates and 60% conservatives and Republicans. In the same Gallup study, researchers found that only a small number of weekly churchgoers support euthanasia, showing the negative correlation between religion and supporting euthanasia, whereas about nine in ten adults who did not attend church regularly believe it should be allowed (Gallup, Inc).
A claims maker who supports the practice of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia is an organization called Compassion and Choices. This organization tries to protect and increase end of life options to medical patients and to see to it that healthcare providers respect their patients wishes. This organization is a proponent for medically aided suicide because it ensures that the person dying has complete control over the process of their death, rather than the government or a doctor. Barbara Coombs Lee, President of Compassion and Choices, stated that she is an advocate for this practice for “terminally ill, mentally capable adults” because this practice has “proven safe and effective in Oregon and other U.S. states for more than thirty years” (Lee, Barbara Coombs). Another organization that promotes euthanasia is Death with Dignity National Center. The ultimate goal of this organization is to create a movement across the U.
S. to improve end of life care and options available to patients. They are designed based off the Oregon Death with Dignity Act to “expand the freedom of all qualified terminally ill Americans to make their own end of life decisions, including how they die” and to aid “legal defense of physician-assisted dying legislation” (About Us).
Other groups and organizations that support euthanasia in the U.S. are the Final Exit Network, Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization, AUTONOMY, (World Right to Die Organizations Directory – ERGO). The individuals and organizations who oppose euthanasia and physician assisted suicide have offered up solutions that they believe will be a better answer to the patients who desire to end their lives.
The AMA states that rather than euthanasia, “physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life,” adding that patients should not be abandoned, but should “continue to receive emotional support, comfort care, adequate pain control, respect for patient autonomy and good communication” (“American Medical Association (AMA) Biography). Similarly, the WMA constantly reiterates its ideology to refrain from such practices, “even if national law allows it or decriminalizes it” (“WMA – The World Medical Association-WMA Resolution on Euthanasia”). These organizations believe that the greatest fear of the patient is not the pain, but the fear of being abandoned by doctors, family and friends. The WMA states that “not enough health professionals, patients, families, and government policymakers understand that the proper use of existing drugs and neurosurgical, anesthetic and psychological approaches can relieve pain and make life worth living,” but once these individuals do, they will realize euthanasia may not be the best answer. The WMA is working to make everyone aware of the numerous end of life options by providing knowledge of these existing drugs and approaches. For those who support euthanasia, these people want the practice to become legal in all fifty states. Even if it is the patient’s wish, in most states, helping someone die to end their agony is illegal and can be punishable by imprisonment.
The only solution for the supporting side is to change the law, allowing for physicians to engage in euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Some supporters believe that there should be limitations to this law, such as parameters that need to be met for a euthanasia candidate. In this case, the solution that they deem most suitable would be to legalize euthanasia but under certain circumstances that would need to be met. These circumstances can include: the patient needs to be over a certain age, the patient needs to be emotionally and mentally stable at the time of request, the patient needs to acquire a second opinion by another physician, to name a few.