Intended for healthcare professionals


Why the Assisted Dying Bill should become law in England and Wales

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 02 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4349
  1. Tony Delamothe, UK editor,
  2. Rosamund Snow, patient editor,
  3. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
  1. 1The BMJ, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. Correspondence to: T Delamothe tdelamothe{at}

It’s the right thing to do, and most people want it

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill is expected to receive its second reading in the House of Lords this month. The BMJ hopes that this bill will eventually become law.

The bill would allow adults who are expected to live six months or less to be provided with assistance to end their lives.1 Two doctors must be satisfied that the person is terminally ill, has the capacity to make the decision to end his or her life, and has a clear and settled intention to do so. This decision must have been reached voluntarily, on an informed basis, and without coercion or duress. Both doctors must be satisfied that the person has been fully informed of the palliative, hospice, and other available care options.

Once both doctors have countersigned the declaration that the person wants to end his or her life, the attending doctor can prescribe the life ending medication, which would be dispensed only after a “cooling off” period of 14 days (or six days if prognosis is less than a month). The person would administer the medication themselves. This is what differentiates …

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