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Ep. 104 Physician-Assisted Suicide: Why and Why Not

Many physicians feel ambivalent about assisted suicide and neither endorse the practice nor outright condemn it. As a result, they also avoid discussing the topic altogether. Our guest is Dr. Adam Cifu, who kindly agreed to engage in a conversation on this difficult question.


Adam Cifu, MD: University of Chicago website and Twitter

Books by Adam Cifu: Ending Medical Reversal and Symptom to Diagnosis


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  1. Anthony Perry, MD on 01/19/2020 at 6:41 PM

    1. As a practical matter after many years as a primary care physician I never had the situation come up in which a patient asked me to participate in his suicide, although of course I saw many people through terminal illnesses. I think the development of the hospice movement, as hospital care became more intensive and ICU’s became ubiquitous, was a good solution to handle the terminally ill. I supervised the deaths of my mother, father and sister and was gratified by the availability of this setting.

    2. I completely agree with your stance regarding the maintaining of Hippocratic ethics for the physician, rather than giving medical ethical standards over to the state. I think Dr. Cifu is much too confident in the ability of society to regulate this activity, and, as in the case of abortion which has become an easy answer for inconvenient or problematic pregnancy, the regulations will inevitably be relaxed and broadened.

    • Michel Accad on 01/20/2020 at 2:53 PM

      Yes, the relaxation of standards is inevitably what happens given the “internal logic” of assisting in someone’s suicide. As for the hospice movement, I agree but it may not keep its integrity, despite the efforts of prominent members, like Ira Byock who is strongly opposed to assisted suicide. Hospice care will need to include assisted suicide as part of the options for “a good death” and may end up being taken over by pro suicide activists

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