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July 25, 1986

Withholding or Withdrawing Treatment

Author Affiliations

Dominican House of Studies Washington, DC

JAMA. 1986;256(4):469-470. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380040043012

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To the Editor.—  I attended the symposium jointly sponsored by the American Medical Association and the Hastings Center in New Orleans from March 14 to 16 entitled "A New Ethic for a New Medicine." The recently announced opinion of the Judicial Council on the feeding of irreversibly comatose patients will bring serious harm to the medical profession, and the members of the American Medical Association should reject this new opinion.American medicine has become the most successful in history, in large part because it has attacked diseases with the expectation that scientific research and prudent practice would yield an effective cure or remedy. The Judicial Council's opinion on the feeding of comatose patients is in fact an admission of defeat, an admission that nothing can be done with patients in this condition, and that the only course of action to be taken with them is to guarantee their deaths by