ASSISTED SUICIDE: AMA Delegates Vote on Support For Bill
The American Medical Association is expected to vote today on whether to continue to back the Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999, which would make it illegal for physicians to prescribe lethal doses of pain medications to terminally ill patients, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The controversial measure is one of several medical policy resolutions that will be debated at this week's meeting of the 500 AMA delegates. Although many physicians and the AMA oppose physician-assisted suicide, most view the legislation as governmental meddling in health care. Medical Association of Georgia President Dr. Joy Maxey said, "The concern here is that the government is setting standards for the practice of medicine and not trained physicians." Some physicians also take exception to a provision in the bill that would authorize the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to revoke physicians' licenses to prescribe controlled substances if they participate in assisted suicide. Dr. Bernard Palmer, a San Antonio ear, nose and throat specialist, argued that the DEA would have the power to decide the proper dosage of certain drugs. He said, "They are bringing the federal government into something that should be between a doctor and the patient." Physicians from New Mexico, Rhode Island and Texas have called on the AMA to oppose the measure or call for changes. Two previous votes by the AMA directors have supported the bill; the delegates are expected to continue that support while calling for changes in the legislation's language (Fox, 12/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.