On October 26, the World Medical Association (WMA) reasserted its opposition to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide during its’ annual Assembly in Tbilisi, Georgia, stating that these practices violate “the principles of medical ethics “.
The Netherlands and Canada, who carried out intense lobbying to modify the WMA’s position, have decided to leave the Association.
After an intensive process of consultation with physicians and non-physicians around the world, the 2002 resolution has been replaced by a revised Declaration on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide, which clearly states the WMA’s opposition to it. Strongly committed to the principles of medical ethics, the WMA emphasizes that the primary role of health professionals is to maintain utmost respect for human life.
The new declaration recognizes the legitimate right of conscientious objection by doctors who do not want to practice euthanasia and assisted suicide in countries where these practices have been legalized. It also recognizes that “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.
* Founded in 1947, the WMA is composed of 20,000 doctors from 112 countries.