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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Doctors should stop opposing assisted suicide

14th June 2012

The British Medical Journal has reignited the debate on assisted dying for terminally ill adults who are mentally competent.


In an editorial, it has called on organisations representing doctors to stop opposing assisted dying, and while it stops short of asking them to back it suggests that the British Medical Association and royal colleges adopt a position of neutrality.

BMJ editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee said: “A change in the law, with all the necessary safeguards, is an almost inevitable consequence of the societal move towards greater individual autonomy and patient choice.

“But it may take a while, and it may not happen until we properly value death as one of life’s central events and learn to see bad deaths in the same damning light as botched abortions.”

The BMJ said it backed calls from the campaign group Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD) which wanted medical bodies to be neutral on the issue.

It comes after the president of the Royal College of General Practitioners wrote in the BMJ that the enthusiasm for assisted dying was surprising.

Iona Heath said it would be impossible to draft a law robust enough to protect the sick and disabled and added: “A malign government coming into power with legislation supporting assisted dying already in place is a deeply disturbing prospect.”

The subject of assisted dying will be debated at the BMA annual meeting later this month with a number of motions urging neutrality on the issue.

A BMA spokesperson said the organisation was "firmly opposed" to the legalisation of assisted dying.


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