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US Psychiatrists Say “No” to Euthanasia

American Psychiatric Assoc logoThe American Psychiatric Association has issued a policy statement in which they state that a psychiatrist should not prescribe euthanasia for any non-terminally ill patient.

LiveActionNews is reporting on the statement which was just issued by the American Psychiatric Association in which they affirm a similar stance taken by the American Medical Association.

“The American Psychiatric Association, in concert with the American Medical Association’s position on Medical Euthanasia, holds that a psychiatrist should not prescribe or administer any intervention to a non-terminally ill person for the purpose of causing death,” the statement reads.

Physician-assisted suicide is only permissible in a handful of U.S. states and only in cases of terminal illness.

“But as we have seen in Europe, it never stays that way," reports Live Action's Cassy Fiano. "The regulations against it are relaxed, a little at a time, until we see that virtually anyone can be euthanized, for any reason. And often, this includes people suffering from mental illness and mental health disorders.”

European nations that permit euthanasia are already allowing the mentally ill to take their own lives. This past summer, the Netherlands allowed a 41 year-old alcoholic to commit suicide because he was unable to beat his addiction. The same country also allowed a 20 year-old survivor of sex abuse to kill herself. Belgium permitted a woman who underwent a sex change operation that didn’t produce the desired peace to kill herself.

Cases such as these are why the APA’s statement is so important.

“The APA’s stance on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia being unethical for people suffering from mental illness is sorely needed because of the example being set in Europe,” Fiano reports.

However, Dr Mark S. Komrad, of the APA ethics committee, told BioEdge that he fears Canada and several states in the US are headed in the same direction. Already psychiatric patients are being helped to commit suicide by activist organizations like Final Exit.

“So far, no other country that has implemented physician-assisted suicide has been able to constrain its application solely to the terminally ill, eventually including non-terminal patients as legally eligible as well,” says Dr Komrad. “This is when psychiatric patients start to be included.”

The movement to legalize assisted suicide in the United States is growing. Coloradoans voted in the last election to legalize the practice in their state making them the most recent addition to a list of five other states -- Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and California – that permit assisted suicide. Several other states have assisted suicide bills pending.

Resistance by powerful medical associations such as the statement just issued by the APA could have a dampening effect on this trend.

The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) is also considering a similar statement.

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