Doctors backtrack on assisted suicide

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 06 July 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:64
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. London

    Last year's decision by the BMA to adopt a neutral stance on the issue of physician assisted suicide lasted only 12 months. Zosia Kmietowicz looks at what changed doctors' minds

    News that the BMA has reversed its stance on assisted suicide for the second time in two years, moving from the neutral view it adopted at last year's annual representatives' meeting to one of opposition this year will no doubt spark anger and relief in equal measure, if the debate leading up to this year's vote is anything to go by.

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    Dr Anne Turner travelled to Switzerland with her son and daughter in January 2006 so that she could end her life


    Representatives voted in Belfast by 65% (165 votes) to 35% (88) to oppose any change in the law on assisted suicide.

    The turnaround is a victory for a campaign led by the group Care Not Killing, which is a coalition of more than 30 organisations opposed to physician assisted suicide. The group was launched in January this year, but doctors began work on setting it up in the immediate aftermath of last year's meeting.

    According to the group, last year's vote supporting neutrality, which was won by 53% to 47%, took place when many representatives had gone home.

    It was the result of an “extraordinary manoeuvre” by the chairman of the annual meeting and the chairman of the …

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