How assisted suicide corrupts medicine

The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson, PhD, in a report titled “Physician-Assisted Suicide Corrupts the Practice of Medicine,” states, “Doctors cannot heal by assisting patients to kill themselves or by killing them.”He goes on to write:

(Doctors) rightly seek to eliminate disease and alleviate pain and suffering. They may not, however, seek to eliminate the patient. Allowing doctors to assist in killing threatens to fundamentally corrupt the defining goal of the profession of medicine.

Physician-assisted suicide will not only corrupt the professionals who practice medicine, but also affect patients because it threatens to fundamentally distort the doctor–patient relationship, greatly reducing patients’ trust of doctors and doctors’ undivided commitment to the healing of their patients.

Our laws shape our culture, and our culture shapes our beliefs, which in turn shape our behaviors. The laws governing medical treatments will shape the way that doctors behave and thus shape the doctor–patient relationship.

Physician-assisted suicide will create perverse incentives for insurance providers and the financing of health care. Assisting in suicide will often be a more “cost-effective” measure from the perspective of the bottom line than is actually caring for patients. In fact, some advocates of PAS and euthanasia make the case on the basis of saving money.

Instead of helping people to kill themselves, we should offer them appropriate medical care and human presence. We should respond to suffering with true compassion and solidarity. Doctors should help their patients to die a dignified death of natural causes, not assist in killing. Physicians are always to care, never to kill.

Here’s a commentary by Farr A. Curlin, MD, the Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities at Duke University School of Medicine:

“The question that arises is, ‘Why is [the Hippocratic oath prohibition on physician-assisted suicide] there?’ Why is that something that physicians, with tremendous consistency, over 2,000+ years, have continued to affirm and profess? A commitment to never participate in assisted suicide is essential for the possibility of doctors continuing to care well for patients who are dying.”

Listen to the rest of Dr. Farr’s commentary from “Living Life to Its Fullest: Supporting the Sick and Elderly in their Most Vulnerable Hours” as part of the Heritage Foundation symposium.


If your state is included on this list of states considering assisted suicide, join with the Christian Medical Association and others in your state to protect your patients and the medical profession. To learn more, contact



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