LONDON, October 15, 2004 ( – The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and Royal College of Physicians (RCP) have accepted the assurance of ‘safeguards’ in amendments to Britain’s euthanasia law and are making no objections.

The bill, introduced by Lord Joffe, is before a House of Lords committee for consideration. The physicians’ organizations are now claiming to be ‘neutral’ on the bill that would introduce legalized euthanasia into Britain. The bill’s wording would “enable a competent adult who is suffering unbearably as a result of a terminal illness to receive medical assistance to die at his/her own considered and persistent request.” The British Medical Association remains opposed to the private members bill.

Professor Raymond Tallis, chairman of the RCP’s committee on ethical issues in medicine said, “The main reason we shifted our position was because the bill itself has changed quite significantly. There are more safeguards – the requirement of full palliative care has been really spelt out.”

It has been shown in the Dutch and Oregon situations that such ‘safeguards’ do nothing to ameliorate the danger of abuses. In the Dutch case, by 2001 the Dutch Supreme Court had already established that emotional suffering is recognized as a type of unbearable suffering, even though it is normally treatable.

The UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has responded to the RCP and RCGP. Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary said, “This is very frightening for patients and will do enormous harm to doctor/patient relationships. It is a huge disservice to RCGP and RCP members – ordinary doctors working hard to serve their patients.”“How can the doctors’ professional bodies be neutral on the fundamental ethical question of whether or not doctors should kill their patients? Why have these two doctors’ Royal Colleges ignored the Royal College of Nursing’s consultation of nurses which received an ‘overwhelming response’ opposing the Bill and ‘reaffirm[ing] the core principles which lie at the heart of nursing: valuing life and ensuring patients are well cared for’? The RCGP and RCP’s position abandons their nursing colleagues and divides the medical profession into one group which kills and another which cares,” Mr. Ozimic continued.  BBC News coverage:   SPUC welcomes Royal College of Nursing rejection of assisted suicide bill:   ph


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