Finnish Medical Association maintains stance against legalizing euthanasia


As euthanasia rates escalate worldwide and the clamor to dismantle legal barriers intensifies, the Finnish Medical Association’s (FMA) council reaffirmed its stance against legalizing euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

On May 16, the FMA emphasized the crucial autonomy of physicians in choosing not to engage in procedures aimed at hastening a patient’s death. The association also warned of potential seismic shifts in medical ethics and practices, should laws permitting euthanasia be introduced.

The council’s decision follows a recent survey revealing a slight uptick in Finnish doctors’ support for euthanasia. With approximately 9,000 responses and a 31% participation rate, the survey signifies an evolution in the medical community’s outlook on this contentious topic. Approximately 55% of respondents either fully (29.3%) or partially (25.2%) endorsed euthanasia legalization in Finland. However, opinions remain divided, with slightly over 40% either wholly (29.3%) or partially (11%) opposed, while around five percent (5%) remain undecided.

READ: Pope Francis blasts euthanasia as hopeless and lacking compassion

Notably, specialists in palliative care are among those less inclined to support euthanasia, with only 13.5% fully endorsing the practice if legalized.

Professor Juho Lehto from Tampere University, commenting on the survey earlier this year, observed, “Physicians who frequently care for terminally ill patients appear more critical of euthanasia, even though overall support among the medical community has grown.”

This sentiment echoes across borders. In a 2020 survey, the British Medical Association found that 7 out of 10 palliative care doctors polled expressed opposition to assisted suicide, citing concerns that legalizing such measures might coerce vulnerable individuals into ending their lives instead of seeking proper care.

However, the FMA reported that there is a lack of trust in the nation’s medical system. A recent “Citizen’s Pulse” survey found that only 58% of respondents have high confidence in the healthcare system. The FMA felt that an “irreversible procedure like euthanasia demands exceptionally high levels of trust in the healthcare system’s ability to assess and fulfill patients’ end-of-life wishes.” While the FMA currently stands against legalizing euthanasia, it appears that may change in the future.

“The organization believes that Finnish healthcare is not ready to incorporate euthanasia into its practice, highlighting the complex and multifaceted nature of the issue,” the Helsinki Times reported.

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