Today the British Medical Association (BMA) voted on two motions relating to assisted dying. The first proposed removing the threat of criminal prosecution from those accompanying a patient having an assisted death, and the second allowing the choice of assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults. The first motion was narrowly defeated by 52% opposed to the motion, with the second losing by a larger margin. The first motion is similar to the amendment Lord Falconer has tabled to the Coroners and Justice Bill, but much wider and crucially does not include any of the safeguards necessary to ensure the change protects vulnerable people, such as capacity, terminal illness, unbearable suffering and checks for coercion.
The BMA have historically been opposed to any change in the law to support assisted dying in any way, Dignity in Dying finds the small margin in this vote on a very wide motion encouraging, and hopes that in due course the position of the BMA will truly reflect the views of all of its members, and the wider public.
Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:
“The narrow margin in this vote is encouraging, especially given that the motion was vague and did not take into consideration our proposed safeguards. More needs to be done, however, to assess the views of all of the BMA’s members. Just a few hundred doctors voted at this meeting, and we strongly urge the BMA to conduct a full consultation on these issues.”
About Dignity in 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.
– Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
– Opinion polls consistently show that at least 80% of the UK population supports a change in the law on assisted dying.
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