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An American Medical Association House of Delegates meeting Monday in Chicago renewed the discussion on physician-assisted suicide, also known as aid-in-dying, with those members trying to make a decision on policy. Retired Philomath doctor, David Grube, was among those in attendance.

Joyce Friedan, a news editor with MedPage Today, wrote a story about the meeting. Without getting into all of the complex particulars, a certain report was adopted and Friedan reported that the bottom line was that the vote left in place the AMA’s current policy, which is favored by opponents of physical-assisted suicide.

Diane Gowski, a Florida doctor, commented against aid-in-dying.

"We would not give our patients a gun or revolver ... so we should not be supplying them with lethal drugs,” she said. “Physician-assisted suicide violates natural moral law. We urge the AMA to stand firm, as any change from the current position will only confuse the public as to the intention and role of their physicians."

Grube noted at a committee meeting that Oregon has had a law legalizing aid-in-dying for 20 years.

"Our end-of-life care is really unsurpassed in the nation," said Grube, who is also the national medical director of Compassion & Choices, a group that advocates for physician aid-in-dying. "It's a rarely-used request from patients, and yet it's a response we can give to them when they're suffering. The enemy is not death, but the enemy is terminal suffering; responding to that in ways that provide comfort is what matters the most."

There are a lot of complexities involved with the issue that I’m not diving into all of that here, but I will say this. After talking to Pam Wald and reading an in-depth story that had been done on what she went through with her dying husband, and after personally watching my own 59-year-old brother die an agonizing death from pancreatic cancer a couple of years ago in Nebraska, I’m in Dr. Grube’s corner on this issue.

My brother suffered, I mean, he really suffered and he was the strongest person I’ve ever known. I’ve never seen anything like that and I hope I never do again. In all honesty, knowing him, I doubt very much that he would’ve consumed a lethal cocktail to end his life. But it sure would’ve been nice to know that the option was there.

As I grow older and not knowing what medical challenges may await me, it’s comforting to me that I live in Oregon.

If you’re interested in reading the full MedPage story, go online to: www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/ama/80384.

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