Resolution 18-113

Submitted by the Richmond Academy of Medicine

WHEREAS,       the Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) encourages and supports the use of Advanced Medical Directives – Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney – for all adults in the Commonwealth of Virginia in order for their desires for end-of-life care be known, and

WHEREAS,       the Code of Virginia does not presently recognize and allow the compassionate care choice of Medical Aid-in-Dying/Physician Assisted Death to be one of the end-of-life choices now; therefore, be it

RESOLVED,     that the Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) supports the Commonwealth of Virginia permitting Medical Aid-in-Dying/Physician Assisted Death, with the appropriate safeguards, as an end-of-life choice for adults in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


I am all for aiding people in their dying process. I am not in any way for asking physicians to believe in, support, or practice physician assisted death (killing) at the request of the patient. This is not our business. Our business and our calling is to enable people to cross the barrier between life and death with love and grace.


Dear colleagues,

I respectfully disagree with this legislative proposal that supports physician assisted suicide in any form at any time in the life cycle. I am not God or the Creator. I support honorable measures to ease natural transitions at the end of life. 


C Owens-Agbeibor,MD 

The impending bill to leagalize euthanasia countermands the philosophy of first do no harm and secondly confuses the role of the physician as healer.  Individuals requesting suicide are in a fashion asking another question be it fear of pain, becoming a burden on family etc.  Those committed to suicide do not ask permission or request a second to act.  When physicians allow themselves to be both healer and executioner, the distinction becomes indistinct and patients rightfully concerned about their physician's motivations.  With all the resources available in this state for hospice care, varieties of pain relief and psychological counseling, this type of legislation is unecessary.  If the state wishes to involve itself in euthanasia, find another profession to engage in their dirty work... NOT PHYSICIANS.  CR Joseph, MD

As the oldest female family physician practicing in the state of Virginia, I feel that we do not need another law to tall us how to practice medicine.  I already provide compassionate aid in dying to my patients; this aid includes physical, emotional, family, spiritual and medical care.  As the medical director of the Roanoke Rescue Mission Free Clinic for the Homeless, I have been priviledged to care for the truly destitute for the past 14 years.  Many are depressed and when they have a terminal illness it is easy to consider suicide.  At such a time I would hate for my patient to show up in the ER on a hopeless day and be given a lethal dose by a stranger, who knows nothing about the patient or the family.  We can do better than this.  In my practice with the homeless we give them an opportunity for healing emotionally, spiritually and include the family in the dying process.  "Appropriate safeguards"  can be too easily and conveniently maneuvered around to promote interests other than those of the patient.  Come on guys, we already know how to do dying well, with aggressive pain management, hospice and good family docs.  


     Please count me in as opposing the MAID proposal.

     Studies have shown that patients at the end of life worry about two main things- will I die in pain and will I die alone.  I think we have done a great job in this state and in this region of the state in working with patients and families to help them understand they will not be abandoned at the end of life and there are palliative care services and hospice services to help make their remaining days comfortable.  The system is working to alleviate those two main concerns. 

     If we proceed with MAID, I believe we will end up forcing systems to participate that may have caregivers unwilling to ethically proceed with expedited death and rules will have to be set up to avoid fraud and coercion and a myriad of other parts to a MAID system with extensive government interference. Depressed patients can easily fall prey to the temptation to give up on life. Those who have a financial interest in a patient's death—insurers, the government, greedy heirs—can wield lethal pressure against the elderly and infirm. Millions of Americans, including many teenagers, who feel vulnerable to thoughts of suicide hear a message from the government that suicide is legal, that it is a good thing for society to endorse.

      In almost 30 years of practice, I have participated in the care and sometimes the passage into the next realm for patients and have never had a patient request anything other than to be pain free and to be with family/friends as the end of their life nears.  I truly believe the government should espouse the value and sanctity of human life and this MAID proposal does nothing to value a life.

                      thanks for the opportunity to engage- John M Kerr Jr ME, MD FACS

My initial reaction to this reolution is one of surprise and disbelief -- the Virginia Medical Society is actually promoting physician prescribing of medication with the intent of killing a patient at the request of a patient!  Interesting and somewhat of a paradox in these times of drug abuse addiction and suicide.  A time when it is increasingly difficult to prescribe medicines to our patients who want to live in comfort with their chronic pain, but are being denied medicines.  And now we want to prescribe freely to promote death which could be the only alternative for some in this environment of drug abuse prevention.

I strongly oppose this resolution and would find it difficult to remain a member of an organization that promotes physician assisted death.

This resolution asks the Medical Society to endose Physician assisted suicide in a vague manner. It is a far leap from endorsing Advance Directives to support for PAS. The ACP and AMA have opposed PAS as have many other physician groups. While I understand the challeges of the dying process, with its pain and dependency, there is no reason for physicians to become part of an active intervention to aid people in ending their lives. With the advances in comfort and hospice care, we can and do provide active support of the dying patients.  I have suffered myself through the dying process of my parents and my wife. I have also suffered with my patients whose death took a long and arduous course. Yet the patients always knew I was there to be in the boat with them, to comfort and alleviate their pain, but not to cause or abet the ending of their lives. 

Nothing, absolutely nothing, requires that physicians be the instruments of suicide aid. Rather, when patients are nearing the end of life and have fears of losing control, or being deprived of dignity, we are called to give compassionate and supportive care – not assistance in ending their lives.  


As a part of a coalition of physicians at the AMA that oppose the "Aid IN Dying " resolutionproffered by Oregon I will offer at the meeting several insights to be considered. These are from the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs report that will come up again at the Interim AMA Meeting in November. 

1. The report of CEJA clearly stated that the term Aid in Dying is inaccurate as one should call a spade a spade--It is Physician Assisted Suicide.

2.The excellent report only left one loop hole that physicains in the states where it is legal wanted. That was a clearly stated statement that the AMA was not out to become an ethics police so to speak.

3. The debate was over 90 minutes long in the reference committee. The reference committee passed it out as written as a CEJa report cannot be amended.

4.It is felt that the statement is #2 is the only change that the CEJA report will have. That being present it should pass.

5. The World Medical Association clearly oppses PAS.

6. The resolution leaves an open door to what are appropriate safeguards?

I look forward to testifying at the Reference Committee.

I am an anesthesiologist opposed to MAID (actually Physician-Assisted Suicide, PAS.) I routinely administer powerful medications for anesthesia in the operating room and for pain control in the PACU. The intention is always to provide patient comfort, safety, and well-being. A physician should never use potent medications to end a patient’s life. This is a line we do not want to cross.

I strongly oppose this proposal for similar reasons as already noted.

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