British doctors reject neutrality on assisted dying, decision largely ignored in media

By Michael Cook

Mark Porter, Chair of BMA Council

Mark Porter, Chair of BMA Council

As one might expect, media coverage of assisted dying (aka assisted suicide or euthanasia or the right to die or dignity in dying) is skewed towards ringing-the-changes rather than steady-as-she-goes. In late May The Economist, an outspoken supporter, argued that the British Medical Association (BMA) should adopt a position of neutrality at its annual meeting. “[A] survey for The Economist last year showed that seven in ten Britons thought doctors should be allowed to help patients end their lives, subject to safeguards,” it contended.

However, when a proposal to adopt a neutral stance failed by a huge margin, 63% to 37%, on June 21, it was only reported by a few Christian and pro-life blogs.

The Chair of BMA Council Mark Porter said that this had been marked the eighth time in 13 years that the BMA had debated the issue: “nobody can credibly say this issue has been suppressed or obfuscated.”

The Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of General Practitioners and British Geriatrics Society are all officially opposed to a change in the law along with 82% of members of the Association for Palliative Medicine.

Editor’s note. This appeared at BioEdge and is reprinted with permission.