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ACP-ASIM Pressroom

Physician-Assisted Suicide Papers in Annals of Internal Medicine

University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, U. Penna. School of Medicine/Hospital of the U. Penna.and Annals of Internal Medicine published by the ACP-ASIM

Embargoed until Monday, March 20, 2000, 5 P.M. EST

PHILADELPHIA - (March 21, 2000) - Five papers on physician-assisted suicide from a distinguished panel of bioethicists are published in the March 21, 2000, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. The papers discuss:

  • the role of guidelines in the practice of physician-assisted suicide
  • assisted suicide compared with refusal of treatment
  • choosing the least harmful palliative treatments of last resort
  • who else should be involved in assisted suicide
  • responding to legal requests for physician-assisted suicide.

The panel, "Finding Common Ground: Assisted Suicide Consensus Panel," convened in 1997 by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics, considered the clinical, moral and ethical issues involved in the physician-assisted suicide. At the time, with the legalization of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in Oregon, the panel's goal was not to argue pros and cons, but to find common ground in examining how to guide practices and determine safeguards that would keep assisted suicide voluntary, regulated, and an option of last resort.

"The debate has been polarized," states Lois Snyder, JD, project director for the 'Finding Common Ground' Project on Assisted Suicide and adjunct faculty member at the Center for Bioethics. "Few, if any, groups of individuals with diverse views have been able to forge any real consensus on assisted suicide issues. The public, physicians, and policymakers clearly want - and need - thoughtful direction."

The national panel of Finding Common Ground was comprised of experts known for their diverse viewpoints on assisted suicide. A list of panel members with their affiliations follows, although their ideas on the subject are their own. Panel members represented fields of thought including medicine, nursing, psychology, hospice, law, philosophy, religion, and bioethics. The panel was led by Snyder and Penn Center for Bioethics Director, Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, and was supported by the Walter and Elise Haas Fund and the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation.

Finding Common Ground Assisted Suicide Consensus Panel

convened by University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics, Philadelphia, PA

Lois Snyder, JD
Panel Director
Center for Bioethics/University of Pennsylvania

Arthur Caplan, PhD
Panel Chair
Center for Bioethics/University of Pennsylvania

David A. Asch, MD, MBA
Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
University of Pennsylvania

Reverend Ralph Ciampa
Department of Pastoral Care
University of Pennsylvania

Barbara Coombs Lee, PA, FNP, JD
Compassion in Dying Federation

Kathy Faber-Langendoen, MD
Program in Bioethics
SUNY Health Sciences Center

Joseph J. Fins, MD
Weill Medical College of Cornell University
New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Campus

John Hansen-Flaschen, MD
Pulmonary and Critical Care Division
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Jason Karlawish, MD
Institute on Aging and Center for Bioethics
University of Pennsylvania

Franklin G. Miller, PhD
University of Virginia
Cornell University Medical College
Kennedy Institute of Ethics

Sally J. Nunn, RN
Center for Bioethics
University of Pennsylvania

David Orentlicher, MD, JD
Center for Law and Health
Indiana University School of Law

Timothy E. Quill, MD
Department of Medicine
The Genesee Hospital
Rochester, NY

Elliott Rosen, EdD
Family Institute of Westchester
Phelps Memorial Hospital

James A. Tulsky, MD
Program on the Medical Encounter and Palliative Care
Durham Veterans Affairs Medical
Duke University Medical Center

*Affiliations are for identification purposes only.


Rosann Giordano Thompson, (215) 349-5964 (Penn Bioethics)
Susan Anderson, (215) 351-2653 (Annals of Internal Medicine)

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