CHICAGO—The American Medical Association's House of Delegates on Monday voted to table a resolution that would keep a current policy on physician-assisted suicide. The move signifies a possible shift in stance on the controversial issue.
The issue was one of the more contentious items discussed during the first day of voting for the AMA's governing body.
The nation's leading physician organization was considering adopting recommendations from the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs that concluded the current definition of physician-assisted suicide within the body's Code of Medical Ethics should not be changed. The AMA's current policy on physician-assisted suicide is that it is "incompatible with the physician's role as healer."
A study two years in the making looked at two resolutions that requested the AMA replace the term "physician-assisted suicide" with "aid in dying", and that the group should take a neutral stance on the practice of aid in dying.
The CEJA report concluded that wherever physician-assisted suicide is legal, safeguards should be put in place to lower risk of harm to patients. Currently six states and the District of Columbia have legalized physician-assisted suicide.
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams delivered the day's keynote address. He expressed the need to eliminate stigma surrounding addiction and chronic pain. He urged doctors to more actively address some of the non-medical social factors that affect health outcomes.
"We must deliver more health to our nation so that we can deliver less sick care and better healthcare," Adams said addressing delegates. Toward that end, delegates voted to adopt a resolution to support payment models that promote screening for social determinants of health.
Also on Monday, the AMA adopted policy supporting the placement of transgender prisoners in facilities based on their affirmed gender.
The group also voted on a policy that advocates for living organ transplant donation surgery to be classified as a service covered under the Family Medical Leave Act, and voted in favor of family and medical leave policies that support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer workers who become family caregivers.