Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Assisted Dying Bill

Why The BMJ should not declare a stance on assisted dying

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 05 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4948
  1. Dylan Harris, consultant in palliative medicine1
  1. 1Department of Palliative Care, Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 9DT, UK
  1. Dgharris{at}

Assisted dying is a topical, contentious, and heavily debated subject and I am surprised that a respected and peer reviewed journal has declared its stance on the basis of the (current) editors’ opinions.1

This creates a future publication bias for The BMJ because authors of further non-commissioned articles against assisted dying are less likely to submit to The BMJ for peer review. How will this affect the journal’s credibility as an independent and peer reviewed publication, and will the journal continue to declare an outright stance on further controversial subjects?

I also wasn’t clear who was expressing the opinion here. The editorial said, “The BMJ hopes that this bill will eventually become law,” but who did this cover—the current editors, the full editorial board, its readership, or just a straw poll around the publication office?


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4948


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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