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

Response to Dylan Harris

From time to time, The BMJ declares its outright opinion on topical, contentious, and heavily debated areas, and under its current editorship this is unlikely to change. Examples include our support for the rights of Northern Ireland women to abortion [1] and our opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill [ 2].

While respecting their choice, it would nevertheless be a shame if some authors were less likely to submit articles opposing assisted dying to The BMJ. The debate is far from over, and we would like it to be reflected in our pages.

To that end, in the run up to the second reading of the Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Lords, we published a critical Observation from Rob George,[3] and in response to our editorial, Margaret McCartney used her weekly column to argue that “The BMJ is wrong: doctor assisted dying would overmedicalise death. [4] Less than a month before the Lords debate, Ilora Finlay, vocal opponent of assisted dying, was the subject of BMJ Confidential. [5]

We hope that this provides sufficient reassurance that the journal hasn’t closed its mind to opposing points of view.

1 Furedi A. The UK abortion anomaly that can no longer be ignored. BMJ 2014;348:g3610

2 Delamothe T, Davies E, Godlee F. Bury the Bill. BMJ 2011;342:d4050

3. George R. We must not deprive dying people of the most important protection
BMJ 2014;349:g4311

4.. McCartney M. The BMJ is wrong: doctor assisted dying would overmedicalise death. BMJ 2014;349:g4502

5. Ilora Finlay: Hooked on Candy Crush. BMJ 2014: 348: g3956.

Competing interests: I was one of the authors of the editorial that Dr Harris objects to

24 July 2014
Anthony Delamothe
Deputy editor
BMA House, Tavistock Sq, London WC1H 9JR