Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

Medical Ethics

2024: These waters now boil

National Right to Life will continue to do everything in its power to direct the attention of the nation, its members, state affiliates and chapter constituencies to the ethical controversies, hilltop conversations, and new and pending legislation that threaten the most vulnerable among us.

“During the emotionally charged debate recently over physician-assisted suicide in Maryland, one legislator told the story of a former state senator who was comatose. He was given a mere 1 percent chance of survival, but today that senator has recovered and is alive and well.

“Unlike alternative treatment options, there is no ‘do over’ with physician-assisted suicide.

“As lawmakers in several other states weigh physician-assisted suicide, the stakes could not be higher. While champions of assisted suicide often cite the futility of continuing treatment for patients believed to be terminally ill, medical prognoses are never completely certain.

“By legalizing physician-assisted suicide, state lawmakers repudiate traditional medical ethics. The Hippocratic oath, which has governed Western medical ethics for over 2,000 years, says: ‘I will keep [the sick] from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.’

“If state lawmakers refuse to preserve this ancient pledge of medical morality, not only will they legalize medical killing, but they will also normalize the practice as socially acceptable. This endangers the most vulnerable members of society—the poor, the marginalized, and the mentally and physically disabled.”

“How State and Federal Lawmakers Can Promote Ethical Options for the Terminally Ill,” by Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, Center for Health and Welfare Policy, and Abigail Slagle, Former Research Associate, Domestic Policy, The Heritage Foundation, March 21, 2019