Doctors to reconsider their stance on physician-assisted dying

The BMA’s current policy position, which has stood since 2006, is to oppose assisted dying in all forms.

Kizzy Bass
11 February 2020
elderly man in bed

Doctors will be asked to consider whether they support, oppose, or take a neutral stance on a law change.

A new survey is to be carried out by the British Medical Association to gauge their members views on the Association’s stance on physician-assisted dying.

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During last year’s Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) both doctors and medical student members voted to instruct the BMA to carry out the poll.

These members will be asked to consider whether the BMA should support, oppose, or take a neutral stance on a law change to permit doctors to prescribe drugs for eligible patients to end their own life.

The poll will also ask about their stance on a change in the law to permit doctors to administer drugs with the intention of ending an eligible patient’s life.

Included in the poll will be questions about the members own personal opinions, the reasons behind them, and about how the BMA should respond in the event of any future proposals to change the law.

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An extremely sensitive.

The BMA’s current policy position, which has stood since 2006, is to oppose assisted dying in all forms.

The results of the survey will not determine BMA policy. It will instead feed into a subsequent debate at this year’s ARM in June. Until a decision is made at ARM to change or keep its current position, the BMA’s policy of opposing a change in the law will remain.

Dr John Chisholm, BMA Medical Ethics Committee chair, said: “Physician-assisted dying is an extremely sensitive issue that understandably ignites a broad range of strong personal views across both the general public and the medical profession.

“Doctors and medical students have a particular interest in discussions around legislation because any change in the law would impact on them not just personally but professionally. Therefore, this poll will allow us to gather information about the breadth of views held by our membership, which will then inform any future policy decisions and how we respond to any proposals for a change in the law.”

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