In response to the BMA’s decision to remain opposed to assisted dying following a debate at its Annual Representative Meeting in Belfast today, Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:
“Unsurprisingly, the BMA has chosen to remain opposed to assisted dying. By making this decision, the BMA is not only wilfully ignoring the evidence but also the suffering of dying patients.
“The BMA was forced to debate the issue of assisted dying at its Annual Representative Meeting today when an earlier motion not to debate it was very narrowly defeated. The subsequent discussion of their official position on assisted dying lasted a mere half an hour.
“In an attempt to stifle debate, opponents of assisted dying speaking during the debate accused members of the public who were handing out briefings outside of intimidation – a disgraceful and entirely false claim which highlights their dismissal of public opinion.
“The BMA’s stance is completely out of touch with the general public, 82% of whom support assisted dying (1). Just 7% agree with the BMA’s opposition and 84% believe its stance should change (2).
“The BMA has never surveyed its own members about their views on assisted dying. How can it claim to speak on behalf of 170,000 doctors across the UK without ever having asked them what they think?
“Compared to the Californian, Canadian and Australian Medical Associations, which have either changed their positions or surveyed their members, the BMA is looking increasingly outdated.
“It must now answer to the members of the public, and its own members, whose opinions it has so far completely disregarded. It is an issue which is not going away and will return, as the Chair of the BMA himself admitted during the short debate.”
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Notes to Editor
– (1) http://www.dignityindying.org.uk/press-release/poll-assisted-dying/
– (2) http://www.dignityindying.org.uk/press-release/polling-seven-percent-bma-assisted-dying/
– Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.