Firstov Stepan



Physician, Politician, Social Activist, Associate Member of the World Medical Association

«The most important condition to implement the human right to health is professionally skilled and responsible for their work physicians. To protect a physician means to protect a patient.»

Stepan Firstov

Home News The world medical community solves the euthanasia issue.

The world medical community solves the euthanasia issue.

24 November 2017

Stepan Firstov as an Associate Member took part in the Conference in Vatican.

Two days event was organized by WMA, German Chamber of Medicine and Pontifical Academy for Life. It joined the leading medical professionals, lawyers, palliative care and medical ethics experts, theology specialists and philosophers from all about the Europe to discuss different points of view for the right of terminally ill patients and their relatives to voluntary completion of treatment and death. 

The Conference in Vatican as a part of a large project became the first planned WMA international regional meeting on euthanasia issues. During the WMA Assembly the event preceded many discussions, which proves the fact that the topic is still relevant and current. In addition, since 2010 the European Medical Association works to produce special document named «Euthanasia guide.» The guide project has already been translated to 15 world languages and its main message is a patient-candidate for euthanasia must be examined many times to be sure that there is no alternative treatment approaches to avoid sufferings apart from an extreme measure. 

The event, held in Vatican Government building, was opened by Secretary General Otmar Kloiber (Germany). There were 150 people in the hall from different european countries. Key speakers were physicians representing the main confessions of Europe. All speakers went deeper into the issue of euthanasia and demonstrated circumspection regarding the moment of no return, the decision to disconnect a patient from the life supporting device.

Nevertheless, there was no single opinion on euthanasia issue at the Conference. Catholicism representatives do not exclude some cases when euthanasia is permissible, but stipulate that each and every incident requires the most accurate examination of the patient. 

Nowadays, there are many people suffering from incurable diseases and wishing to commit suicide go to Switzerland. Many euthanasia cases were recorded in the Netherlands. However, there is still no one general law governing this complex in ethical point issue. At the Conference in Vatican many opinions were said that such law is needed and it should cover all world countries with its jurisdiction was stated many times.

From the Judaism standpoint, which was represented by physician from Rome Stefano Semplici, it is necessary to find a middle ground to help a person avoid extreme human sufferings, and, in any case, not to commit a murder. That is why, Jewish Church allows to turn off Mechanical ventilation devise from seriously ill patients, in special cases. 

Muslim doctor from Turkey, Ilhan Ilkilic, presented another opinion: to ask for life termination means to ask for suicide, but it is unacceptable.

The Orthodox doctor form Romania, Daniela Moshou, noticed that it is necessary to keep hope for recovery even if the situation is impossible. At the same time, she does not exclude ways of passive euthanasia.

«Position of Orthodox speaker is closer to me. Probably, it is so because I was brought up in this religion. In special cases, a doctor adopting the Orthodox faith can even perform functions of an Orthodox priest, confessing a patient. A body will die, but a soul is eternal,' — commented Conference participant, Stepan Firstov.

In many countries including Russia, Great Britain, The USA, Canada and many others, euthanasia is forbidden and it is considerd to be a criminal offense. At the same time, laws on euthanasia, actually legalizing it exist in Switzerland and the Netherlands. In Germany, euthanasia is equated to «suicide with an assistant».

During the discussion it became clear that about 80% of doctors believe that euthanasia is not their business. Nevertheless, it is already clear now that the medical community will not be able to shut itself off from the problem. However, the dilemma of «live or die» should not be solved by a doctor, but the commission of different specialists.

Professor, Chairman of Israel Medical Asssocaition, Leonid Eidelman, summarized the results of the Conference work:

«Yes, euthanasia is a serious issue of the modern world. But such problems never should be a part of doctors' work. First and foremost, physician follows the Hippocratic oath «Do no harm»! and ethical maxima «Thou shalt not kil!l»