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Views And Reviews

The BMA and the Academy of the Medical Royal Colleges should follow the RCP and give all its members a say on assisted dying

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 06 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l543

Read our collection of articles on assisted dying

  1. John Temple, consultant surgeon
  1. Birmingham, UK

Medical bodies should adopt more balanced policies, recognising the wide range of opinions on this matter

The debate around assisted dying in the UK shows that patients are not offered enough choice in how illness at the end of life is managed.12 Yes, for many patients, end of life care is good, but for some it is not how they would choose to end their days.

Assisted dying would let terminally ill people access drugs to end their own lives, under strict conditions.3 The Suicide Act, which prohibits assisted dying, has been in place since 1961—there is a need now for fresh, informed debate. This is why I welcome the decision by the Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP) to survey its members on assisted dying.4

At present, it is the perceived rigid opposition of doctors that blocks any serious review of the law. Parliamentarians have used the opposition of the BMA and medical royal colleges to justify rejecting legislative change. Equally, testimonies from some doctors …

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