Doctors vote to maintain assisted suicide opposition

Doctors have decisively voted to maintain their opposition to assisted suicide at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual meeting.

Delegates voted by 198 to 115 against a motion which called for the BMA to take a ‘neutral’ stance on the issue.

The move means the doctors’ union retains its stance of opposing assisted suicide and supporting the current law which “allows compassionate and ethical care for the dying”.

Plans defeated

Dignity in Dying – formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society – have been lobbying for a change in the position.

In 2015, MPs at Westminster and MSPs in Edinburgh voted against Bills to introduce assisted suicide.

At the weekend palliative care experts warned against ‘brushing aside’ the views of doctors who are concerned about introducing assisted suicide.

Thankful

Ciarán Kelly, Head of Communications at The Christian Institute, welcomed the BMA vote.

“Every day doctors have to provide care for patients and families dealing with the prospect of death.

“They know the high level of trust that their patients have in them. But a decision by the BMA to change its position would have sown doubt into the minds of vulnerable patients as to whether their doctor is always working in their best interests.

“We should be thankful today that doctors refused to bow to pressure to open the door to assisted suicide.”

Comfort

In a letter to The Sunday Times, 19 palliative care experts, including consultants in palliative medicine, backed the current law.

They said it “helps us to offer comfort and dignity to the dying without bringing their lives to an abrupt end”.

The group said that was why “the UK and Scottish parliaments decided recently not to change” the law for “something less safe”.

The “views and concerns of doctors – reflected in numerous polls – cannot be brushed aside on an issue that affects both them and their patients”, they added.

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