Health Care Workers Group Backs Assisted Suicide, Opposes Abstinence

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 20, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Health Care Workers Group Backs Assisted Suicide, Opposes Abstinence Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 20
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Another leading health care organization has put politics ahead of the best interests of patients and health care. The by American Public Health Association is endorsing assisted suicide and questioning abstinence education.

APHA held its 134th annual meeting in Boston in November and, Wednesday, released the text of resolutions on top health and political issues.

The organization took a position on unrelated issues such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq but also took prominent stands for assisted suicide and against abstinence education.

The group says it has "concerns" about abstinence education "in light of statistics that show most Americans have sex many years prior to marriage."

APHA says it has "significant ethical and human rights concerns" in cases where "abstinence is presented to adolescents as the sole choice, or when health information regarding other choices is limited or misrepresented."

The group is calling on the federal government to turn from funding abstinence education programs to those involving comprehensive sex education.

The group also approved an assisted suicide policy urging euphemistic wording to replace the terminology used when a physician assists a patient in killing himself.

In order to engender more support for the practice, which is only legal in Oregon, APHA wants health educators, policy-makers, journalists and health care providers to begin using "aid in dying" or "patient-directed dying" to describe assisted suicide.

APHA claims "the choice of a mentally competent, terminally ill person to choose to self-administer medications to bring about a peaceful death is not ‘suicide.’"

Oregon officials came under fire in October for changing the wording of "assisted suicide" when referring to the state law. bio1802.html

The Oregon Department of Human Services has determined that it will begin referring to "physician assisted suicide" as "physician assisted death" on official reports.

The organization also calls on state pharmacy groups to educate pharmacists about dispensing the morning after pill. The call comes at a time when many pharmacists are seeking conscience clauses to avoid being forced to dispense the drug.

ACTION: Send your comments about the APHA policies to: American Public Health Association, 800 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001. You can email them at [email protected], call (202) 777-2742 or fax a note to (202) 777-2534.