The years leading up to the end of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st century witnessed an unprecedented focus on end-of-life care. The combination of life-prolonging medical technologies and the rise of autonomy as the leading ethical principle in healthcare have moved the debate over ethical and legal aspects of intentionally hastening death into the forefront of theology, medical ethics, moral platforms, and public policy forums. Over this time period, ethical and legal views have shaped a professional consensus with regard to two key issues in end-of-life care, namely withholding and withdrawing life support in the face of terminal illness, including medical provision of (i.e., “artificial”) hydration and nutrition.
NHPCO’s Resolution and Commentary on Physician Assisted Suicide
WHEREAS, The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is the leadership voice for the nation’s hospice and palliative care communities; and,
WHEREAS, The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s membership comprises individuals and organizations with perspectives and expertise drawn from direct experience with those facing a terminal illness, making them uniquely and highly qualified to provide comment to the Congress, the Administration, the Courts, the media and the general public; and,
WHEREAS, The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization supports an American’s right to have knowledge of and access to all forms of therapy that have been shown to enhance quality of life and reduce suffering; and,
WHEREAS, The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization supports the right of all persons to participate in all decisions regarding their care, treatment, and services; and,
WHEREAS, Avoiding a prolonged period of suffering as one dies is a goal commonly expressed by seriously ill persons; and,
WHEREAS, The goal of hospice and palliative care is to facilitate safe and comfortable dying with focus on quality of life as each dying person defines it;
WHEREAS, The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization does not support the abandonment of the person and remains committed to meeting the medical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of people and their families; and,
WHEREAS, There has been ongoing public attention to physician assisted suicide; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reaffirms its commitment to the value of life and to the optimization of the quality of life for all people at the end of life.
RESOLVED, That the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization supports improved knowledge of and access to hospice and palliative care for terminally ill people and their families, regardless of individuals’ views, decisions, or preferences regarding physician assisted suicide.
RESOLVED, That the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization does not support the legalization of physician assisted suicide.
Download a PDF of the full statement with commentary – Physician Assisted Suicide Narrative and Resolution – on NHPCO’s website.