Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Assisted Dying - Doctors Should Remain Neutral

A resent study has shown that 62 percent of 1004 GPs believe that medical bodies, such as the BMA (British Medical Association) should adopt a position of "studied neutrality", with regard to the question whether assisted dying for terminally ill adults who are mentally competent should be legalized.

The online survey, commissioned by Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD) and Dignity in Dying also revealed that only 33% of GPs believed that medical organizations should not take a position of neutrality, because they believe that medical organizations should only play a supporting role, or because those who believe it should vote against it.

Delegates will debate whether or not the BMA should change its current position of opposition to assisted dying to adopting a neutral position at the BMA Annual Representatives' Meeting (ARM) on 27th June.

Prof Raymond Tallis, Chair of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying, declared:

"This poll shows decisively that the BMA is failing to represent its members by taking a position of opposition to the legalization of assisted dying.  We know that opinion amongst doctors on assisted dying is mixed - for example, as demonstrated in an earlier poll, only one in three doctors would not want the choice of an assisted death for themselves. And research has shown that 30%-40% of doctors actively support assisted dying. The present poll demonstrates that the majority of doctors do not support the BMA taking a position either for or against on this issue. The BMA needs to stop pandering to a vocal minority and start representing the majority of its members."

Tallis continues:

"What is more, the BMA should respect the views of society at large. Survey after survey has found support for assisted dying at greater than 80% in the general population.  Medical paternalism should be a thing of the past. The BMA's current opposition is unrepresentative and untenable. I trust that this year's ARM will do the right thing and change the BMA's position to one of studied neutrality."

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