The IAHPC believes that no country or state should consider the legalization of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (PAS) until it ensures universal access to palliative care services and to appropriate medications, including opioids for pain and dyspnea.
The IAHPC affirms the following:
- Withholding or withdrawing ineffective, futile, burdensome, and unnecessary life-prolonging procedures or treatments does not constitute euthanasia or PAS because it is not intended to hasten death, but rather indicates the acceptance of death as a natural consequence of the underlying disease progression.
- In some countries, voluntary euthanasia, non-voluntary euthanasia (the patient is unable to consent), or involuntary euthanasia (against the person’s will) are all recognized as forms of euthanasia. However, the IAHPC believes that non-voluntary or involuntary forms of euthanasia should not be recognized and must never be permitted.
- Palliative sedation — sedation intended to relieve refractory distress of a dying patient and not to hasten death — is not euthanasia or PAS. Distinguishing palliative sedation from euthanasia and PAS is based on the ethical principles of beneficence (duty to alleviate suffering) and nonmaleficence (duty to prevent or avoid harm). It should never be used with the intention to shorten life.
See reference for more information.
International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care position statement: euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. De Lima L et al. J Palliat Med 2017 Jan;20(1):8-14.