Attempt to force BMA into neutral position on assisted suicide fails

The British Medical Association (BMA) will remain officially opposed to assisted suicide after an attempt to force the association into a neutral position on the issue failed today.

A motion (No. 80) had been tabled by the South Central Regional Council at the BMA’s annual representatives meeting, calling for the BMA to move to a position of neutrality on assisted suicide.

Following a vote however, the motion was comprehensively defeated after 198 delegates, some 63 per cent, opposed the motion while 115 voted in favour of it.

Public policy charity CARE, a prominent campaign group opposed to assisted suicide welcomed the outcome of the debate.

CARE Chief Executive Nola Leach said: 

“I am delighted this attempt to force the BMA into a position of neutrality on assisted suicide has failed.

“This was a cynical effort to try and silence a respected opponent of assisted suicide and it is clear a move towards neutrality would have been a stepping stone towards full support for assisted suicide.

“Adopting a neutral position on this ethically charged issue would have been highly dangerous and it would also have represented a colossal failure of leadership.

“It makes no sense for doctors’ largest representative body to not hold an official view on such a crucial issue.

“Had the motion today been successful, the BMA’s influence on the public debate about assisted suicide would have been hugely diminished, something campaigners for assisted suicide desperately want.

“The will of parliament on this issue is clearly settled as highlighted when 330 MPs rejected assisted suicide laws last September. We believe the outcome of this debate today is the right one for the most vulnerable in our society.”

Notes to Editors:

For more information please contact James Mildred on 07581153693 / 02072274731 or email

The BMA is currently holding its annual representatives meeting in Belfast. 

The BMA is well known for its opposition to assisted suicide:

The Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians (London) and the Association for Palliative Medicine also continue to oppose assisted suicide.

The defeated motion was as follows:

  • 80 Motion by SOUTH CENTRAL REGIONAL COUNCIL: That this meeting believes that the BMA should adopt a neutral stance on assisted dying.

Last September CARE welcomed the outcome of the vote on assisted suicide proposals, where MPs voted to reject the Rob Marris Assisted Dying Bill by 330 votes to 118:


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