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World Medical Association is putting ‘End-of-Life Decisions’ on their Agenda

At the meeting of the Council of the World Medical Association (WMA)  late April 2016 in Buenos Aires, a paper written by the Dutch KNMG and their Canadian colleagues was explained in order to reach a review of the position of the WMA regarding euthanasia and assisted dying. 

The current position condemns the National Medical Associations (NMA’s) and their members who accept euthanasia, because it is unethical. Given the current legislation in a number of countries and those developing in a number of others, make that these NMA’s should be in default and in fact expelled.

The paper suggesting a reformulation of the negative WMA position, loosened hefty discussions, where heavy words fell from a large number of countries. Surprising therefore was the contribution of the representative of the Vatican, who pointed to societal changes and medical developments, allowing more medical possibilities, but indicating that doctors should not lose sight on the patient and the quality of living and dying.

The consultations on this resolution in the Medical Ethics Committee of the WMA which followed, resulted in the proposal to have the topic “Appropriate end-of-life care” first be discussed discuss internationally and widely in and with all NMA’s. A working group – in which in each case Netherlands and Canada – will subsequently work out appropriate resolutions.

Still no adjustment, but it is now on the WMA agenda.