British Medical Association (BMA) consults on Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide

Editor’s note. The following is excerpted from a notice from the “Care Not Killing Alliance” in the UK regarding the BMA consultation on euthanasia and assisted suicide. The original appeared here and was reposted at Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

On Thursday 6 February, the British Medical Association (BMA) emailed all members, inviting them to respond to a consultation on ‘physician-assisted dying’ – which it describes as covering both assisted suicide and euthanasia, and does not limit in scope to those with terminal illnesses. 

Currently, the BMA is opposed to both practices, a policy reaffirmed at the 2016 annual representative meeting (ARM).

Now, 160,000 members are asked ‘whether they believe the BMA should actively support, actively oppose, or neither actively support nor actively oppose (take a neutral stance on) a change in the law to permit doctors to

  • ‘prescribe drugs for eligible patients to self-administer to end their own life.’ 
  • ‘administer drugs with the intention of ending an eligible patient’s life.’

Members are also asked about what has influenced their view.

The consultation runs until 27 February. It is important that as many doctors as possible respond, in the light of the evidence both against a change in the law and against a change to neutrality.

How you can get involved  …

As regards reasons to maintain opposition, you may wish to note that if legalised:  

* vulnerable patients may feel pressure to end their lives prematurely; coercion is hard to detect

*Social and existential factors, not pain, drive most assisted suicides in Oregon; in 2018, 54% cited fear of being a burden.

*Doctors’ involvement in ending life makes it a standard (and cheaper) treatment option. 

*Safe regulation has proved elusive and does not stop illegal practice or abuse.

  • You or others may find our overview of the consultation and the issue of neutrality helpful. 
  • You may wish to share our BMA campaign video on Facebook or other social media
  • You or others may find doctors’ perspectives useful: visit or share the website of Our Duty of Care, a group of doctors who originally came together at the time of the RCP consultation last year.

Medical neutrality would be cast by campaigners as a green light for lawmakers to weaken or repeal the laws on assisted suicide and euthanasia. In matters of life and death, where a wealth of evidence casts grave doubts on the safety and ethics of assisted suicide, doctors must maintain clarity – by maintaining opposition.