The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS England) states it has adopted a “neutral” position on assisted suicide following a survey with a response rate of just 19%. SPUC has slammed RCS England as “fundamentally unserious.”
By SPUC—the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
In a survey of Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) members conducted earlier this year, 52% of respondents said they believed that RCS England should support the legalisation of assisted suicide in England; 20% said they favoured a neutral position; 25% were opposed.
But out of 17,631 members around the UK who were invited to participate in the survey, only 3,268 responded – a 19% response rate. Despite the small response, RCS England deemed the response rate “a large sample size for confident and robust statistical analysis”.
Members most opposed to a change of RCS assisted suicide position were specialists in neurosurgery (39%), while surgeons in dentistry were most in favour of a change (64%).
While many members cited “autonomy” and “choice” as reasons for their support for assisted suicide, a significant number of opposed members highlighted the potential for abuse of vulnerable patients.
“It is impossible to fully rule out the possibility that the person is motivated by pressure from others, or an altruistic desire to avoid being a burden to their family or the wider community”, stated one member.
Only 12% of respondents based their opposition on the principle that doctors should do no harm. “It contravenes the founding principle of the Hippocratic Oath … first and above all else do no harm!” a consultant responded.
Responding to the survey, RCS council members voted for the organization to shift its official position from opposition to assisted suicide to neutrality.
“A fundamentally unserious organization”
SPUC’s Michael Robinson, Executive Director (Public Affairs and Legal Services), said: “By justifying such a seismic shift in ethics on a pathetic response rate of 19%, the Royal College of Surgeons exposes itself as a fundamentally unserious organization that has given up the most important principle of medicine – to do no harm.
“Apart from destroying medical ethics forever, a change in the law would lead to a catastrophic normalization of suicide under the banner of feigned compassion, giving up on vulnerable people, turning them into victims, and telling them they’d be better off dead.”
Robinson continued, “Far from giving patients autonomy, a change in law would impose a terrible burden on thousands of citizens, a pressure to die that, as Dr Greg Pike writes, ‘simply cannot allow people to make their own choices’.
“We must all look at the horrific example of Canada, where assisted suicide claimed 13,500 lives in 2022 alone, surging by 35% in the space of 12 months; where assisted suicide is now seen as a solution to mental health and even poverty.”
Robinson concluded, “For example, a Canadian ex-soldier suffering from PTSD was offered assisted suicide through a veteran hotline; meanwhile, a doctor boasted that she helped kill 400 people through assisted suicide, seeing “loneliness and poverty” as good enough reasons to end precious lives.
“The slippery slope is obvious, so much so that pretending otherwise is tantamount to willful blindness to the facts on the ground, to the horror stories coming out of Canada. This is a time to be serious, to recognize the truth about assisted suicide and say no to death.”