The British Medical Association (BMA) reaffirmed its firm opposition to legalising assisted suicide after renewed calls for a change in the law while an editorial in the BMJ called for the Falconer Assisted Dying Bill to become law.
The BMA reported that the BMJ editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee, UK editor Tony Delamothe and patient editor Rosamund Snow argued that people should be able to exercise choice over their lives, which should include how and when they die.
The BMJ is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BMA but has editorial independence.
BMA council chair Mark Porter acknowledged there were strongly held views within the medical profession on both sides of the assisted-dying debate. But Porter insisted:
The BMA remains firmly opposed to legalising assisted dying. This issue has been regularly debated at the BMA’s policy-forming annual conference and recent calls for a change in the law have persistently been rejected.
Dr Porter added:
[The BMJ's] position on assisted dying is an editorial decision and does not reflect the views of the BMA or the medical profession. Our focus must be on making sure every patient can access the very best of palliative care, which empowers patients to make decisions over their care.
Lord Falconer’s bill is due to have its second reading in the Lords later this month. Falconer's bill is similar to the Oregon model of assisted suicide.
Last month, assisted suicide campaigners lost a right-to-die appeal at the UK supreme court — but judges urged Parliament to look at the current law.
In February, the Royal College of GPs announced it remained opposed to changes to the law on assisted suicide after a widespread consultation of its members.
Reprinted with permission from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.