Legalisation of assisted dying, we have argued, is an issue for society, not doctors, to decide. The public support a change in the law and, if medical paternalism is to be consigned to the past (where it belongs), doctors should not attempt to use undue influence to determine the outcome of the debate. What is more, with clear evidence that a significant minority of doctors support assisted dying, representative medical bodies cannot truly claim to represent their members whilst maintaining a position of opposition.
Yesterday’s news that 62% of doctors agree that medical bodies such as the Royal Colleges and the BMA should be neutral on assisted dying and that the British Medical Journal supports HPAD’s call for neutrality adds strength and urgency to our case.
We hope that the BMA, which is debating its current opposition to assisted dying in two weeks’ time, will take note.
* Prof Ray Tallis is the Chair of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD)