As part of the current debates in Italy on legalizing euthanasia, the National Federation for the Orders of Doctors and Dentists (FNOMCeO) was heard on Thursday by the Chamber of Deputies’ committees for justice and social affairs. On this occasion, the FNOMCeO firmly reiterated its position: "Death is the enemy and doctors have always been banned from bringing it about. If it is legalized, provision must be made for conscientious objection". The federation took this opportunity to make public a document, drawn up in March by the National Ethics Committee, stating that: "The right of doctors to act in accordance with the conscience clause [...] at critical moments in their lives, to protect the life and dignity of the people to whom they are entrusted cannot be circumvented".
Pierantonio Muzzetto, coordinator of the FNOMCeO’s ethics council, spoke on behalf of all doctors in the federation with these words: "For thousands of years, the medical profession has followed a paradigm that precludes patients’ death," he said. [...] Doctors have always considered death as an enemy and disease as an anomaly to be cured: we have never thought that death could become an ally, that it could solve a person's suffering. [...] The repercussions do not only apply to doctors and other health professionals: the mechanism that leads to accompanying people to commit suicide involves society as a whole.
"Doctors must be assigned the role of protecting the most vulnerable. As history teaches us, the ban on promoting or procuring death has always protected the medical profession and citizens. The FNOMCeO recalls that the principles of our code apply to the profession’s entire practice and that the principle that inspired it remains valid.
"The code of medical ethics, as currently drafted, prevents doctors from performing and/or encouraging interventions intended to cause a patient’s death," he concluded. "At the same time, it requires doctors to respect patients’ dignity," including via the use of palliative care and modern pain management techniques: "We must better apply these therapies, which can be the best tool to avoid violating human dignity and preventing requests for suicide".
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