The Medical Society of the State of New York has strong concerns with the articulation in the article “State’s physicians support aid in dying,” Jan. 29, that a majority of New York doctors are in favor of physician assisted suicide.
The survey from Compassion & Choices that was referenced in the article, like the 2017 Medical Society survey, is not a scientific sample representative of the nearly 100,000 New York-licensed physicians as a whole. The article stated that less than 1 percent of physicians responded to this survey. Moreover, the survey had a much higher percentage of younger physician (under 50) response than the general physician population.
Medical Society’s Task Force on End of Life continues to discuss many matters related to end-of-life care and whether Medical Society’s long-standing position on physician assisted suicide should be re-evaluated. The results from the Compassion & Choices survey will be added to the materials that will be reviewed by our task force.
With regard to the validity of the Medical Society survey, it was always regarded as a tool to gauge, but not to be conclusive, as to where Medical Society’s members stood on this issue. Certainly, we understand that surveys can be shaped by outside forces. For example, we know from several sources — including a press report from Crain’s New York Business — that the New York Alliance for Medical Aid in Dying (made up of Compassion & Choices New York and other lobbying groups) forwarded Medical Society’s survey to individuals sympathetic to their cause — presumably to affect the results.
Thomas Madejski, MD
President, Medical Society of the State of New York
Source: “Letter: Aid in dying survey not a true sampling,” TimesUnion.com