Doctors’ organisations, neutrality, and the assisted dying debateBMJ 2021; 374 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2075 (Published 09 September 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2075
- Jo Best, freelance journalist
- London, UK
On 14 September the BMA will debate motions on doctor assisted dying, including calls for the association to change its stance opposing legalisation to one of neutrality.1 A membership survey last year found diverse views: 40% of respondents said that the BMA should support legalisation, 33% said that it should remain opposed, and 21% wanted it to take a neutral stance.2
Such surveys among healthcare professionals often find broad splits. Adopting a position of “considered neutrality,” like the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nursing (table), avoids committing to a single stance shared only by a minority of members.
David Nicholl, consultant neurologist and supporter of the Dignity in Dying campaign for assisted dying, told The BMJ, “There’s a lobby of doctors on both sides of the argument: a lot of people are very pro or very anti, but I don’t think it’s healthy for organisations to be strongly one way or the other. Decisions can get made by a very small number of people who may not necessarily …