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The following Declaration was made at the 13th International Conference of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies held in Boston, Massachussetts from September 1 to 3, 2000.

 

THE BOSTON DECLARATION ON ASSISTED DYING

We are healthcare professionals attending the biennial conference of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies being held in Boston from 1-3 September 2000.

We support the right of competent adults who are suffering severe and enduring distress from terminal illnesses, to seek medical assistance to hasten dying if this is their voluntary, rational and persistent request, after other relevant options, offered by palliative medicine, have been fully explored.

On this occasion, we wish to draw public attention to the practice of "terminal sedation" or "slow euthanasia" which is performed extensively today throughout the world in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, and in private homes. This is carried out under the doctrine known as "double effect" by which a physician may lawfully administer increasing dosages of regular analgesic and sedative drugs that can hasten someoneÕs death as long as the declared intention is to ease pain and suffering. Of course, the key word is "intention". Compassionate physicians, without publicly declaring the true intention of their actions, often speed up the dying process in this way. Many thousands of terminally-ill patients are so helped globally every year.

We feel that the only real difference between "terminal sedation" and a rapidly effective lethal dose is one of time, a slow death, over a few days, with life-shortening palliative drugs versus a more dignified and peaceful death, because it is not prolonged, and is determined by the patient. We urge other medical professionals, worldwide, to be more open about this form of physician-assisted dying.

 

Signed by health professionals in Boston at the World Conference on Assisted Dying, September 3, 2000:

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  • Pieter Admiraal, M.D., physician, The Netherlands
  • Margereta Appel, nurse, Sweden
  • Michio Arakawa, M.D., physician, Japan
  • Patricia Baker, nurse, USA
  • Edward Beck, pharmacist, USA
  • Doloros Bicek, nurse, USA
  • Szari Bourque, L.M.S.W., USA
  • Nanoek Bos, nurse, The Netherlands
  • Ann Bruner, social worker, USA
  • Joan Caplan, clinical social worker, USA
  • Harriet Carroll, nurse, USA
  • Angela Cheater, researcher, Zimbabwe
  • Ellen Crowley, social worker, USA
  • Judy Dent, medical technologist, Australia
  • Lois Diffrient, arts therapist, USA
  • Rudolf W. Dunn, M.D., physician, Canada
  • Lawrence D. Egbert, M.D., M.P.H., anesthesiologist, USA
  • Jan Loeb Eisler, ICU nursing professional, USA
  • Kenneth R Haslam, M.D., anesthesiologist, USA
  • Val Hilton, nursing professional, USA
  • Michael Irwin, M.D., physician, United Kingdom
  • Stephen Jamison, psychologist, USA
  • Sobel Jerome, M.D., surgeon, USA
  • Rob Jonquiere, M.D., family physician, The Netherlands
  • Cynthia R. Kerkhoff, social worker, USA
  • Sibyl K. Levin, occupational therapist, USA
  • Norman A. Levy, M.D., physician, USA
  • Nancy Livermore, M.S.W., USA
  • Peggy Lovett, clergy, USA
  • Richard MacDonald, M.D., physician, USA
  • Richard E. Madden, social worker, USA
  • Philip Nitschke, M.D., physician, Australia,
  • Clarke Miller, nursing home administrator, USA
  • Henry Miller, D.D.S., USA
  • Theresa B. Nieves, counselor, USA
  • Donald Pederson, M.D., anesthesiologist, USA
  • Wilburg Pokorny, M.D., family physician, USA
  • Frank Press, science policy, former president, National Academy of Sciences, USA.
  • Margaret Rappaport, M.D., physician, USA
  • Kathleen M. Reding, professor, USA
  • Robert Russell, nurse, USA
  • Karen Sanders, nurse, lecturer, health care & ethics, United Kingdom
  • Elliott A. Schaffzin, M.D., physician, USA
  • Evalyn Segal, psychologist, USA
  • Marcella Sheperd, nurse, USA
  • Aycke Smook, M.D., physician, surgeon oncologist, The Netherlands
  • John Spangler, M.D., Obstetrics/Gynocology, USA
  • Al Sundquist, patient support volunteer, USA
  • Rodney Syme, M.D., physician, urologist, Australia
  • Eleanor M. van der Voort, nurse, USA
  • N Conant Weiss, M.D., physician, USA
  • Burton Weissberger, USA
  • Libby Wilson, M.D., physician, United Kingdom

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