- 49% supported neutrality on assisted dying, 48% opposed and 3% abstained
- The BMA voted last year after a poll that showed a majority supported the change.
- This ethics chair said it would represent the ‘views, interests and concerns’ of the members
Dr John Chisholm, chairman of the BMA’s Medical Ethics Committee, said the neutral position means the association will not lobby for or against changes to the law, but will represent the views, interests and concerns expressed by its members.
Britain’s largest association for doctors today abandoned its 15-year stance in protest against assisted death.
The British Medical Association, which represents about 150,000 members, cast a landmark vote last year after a poll that showed a majority supported the change in the law.
More than 300 members of BMA’s representative body participated in the voting.
A slim majority supported the change to take a neutral stance on the issue.
Less than half of the BMA members who voted did so in favor of a neutral stance on assisted death. Another 48 per cent were against it and 3 per cent abstained.
But, it helped die, he said, adding that he would support medics’ right to refuse to prescribe lethal doses of the drug to patients if they objected.
Assisted suicide is currently illegal. Anyone who helps or encourages someone to take his own life faces up to 14 years in prison.
But euthanasia, which is the act of deliberately giving a sick patient a drug by a doctor that they do not need with the sole purpose of ending their life, is considered either murder or homicide. Criminals face to spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Assisted dying sparks heated debate from both sides, with some arguing that no one should be deliberately denied the right to live.
But others say the outright ban causes unnecessary suffering to critically ill patients and their families.
John Chisholm, chairman of the BMA’s Medical Ethics Committee, said the union’s neutral position means the union will not lobby for or against changes to the law, but will represent the views, interests and concerns expressed by its members.
The move comes after more than 100 medics wrote a letter calling on the BMA to end its opposition to assisted dying.
Some 302 members of the BMA’s representative body, out of 560 eligible, took part in the historic vote. Some 49 per cent supported the change in stance, while 48 per cent were against it and three per cent abstained from the vote.
Doctors and medical student representatives debated the issue today at the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting held virtually.
Of the 560 members of the union’s representative body, only 54 percent were eligible to participate, who chose to vote.
While the body passed the resolution to support those who choose to end their lives, it also said that they will protect the right of healthcare workers to refuse to indulge in the act.
The vast majority (79 percent) voted in favor of giving health workers the right not to assist with death if the law is changed.
What is the law on assisted death?
There are two types of assisted dyeing. Both are currently illegal in England.
Euthanasia is the act of intentionally ending a person’s life in order to relieve suffering, such as a doctor intentionally giving a drug to a patient suffering from an incurable disease with the aim of ending his life.
Criminals face to spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Assisted suicide occurs when someone helps another person kill themselves, such as by providing a lethal amount of medication to a family member, while knowing that they are planning to use it to commit suicide. are.
Anyone who helps or encourages someone to take his own life faces up to 14 years in prison.
Assisted dying is also illegal in Wales under the Suicide Act 1961 and in Northern Ireland under the Criminal Justice Act 1966, which states that anyone who ‘encourages or aids in suicide’ can be jailed for up to 14 years.
There is no specific offense of aiding in suicide in Scotland, but it is possible that helping a person to die could be prosecuted for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
A bill to legalize assisted death in Scotland was introduced in June by Liberal Democrat MP Liam MacArthur.
But 72 percent said physicians objecting to assisted dying should still provide factual information to any decision-making body about the practice.
And doctors who refuse to provide assisted dying services should, if it becomes legal, refer patients seeking that kind of care to another drug, the majority said.
The chain of votes follows a poll conducted by the BMA last year on whether the law should be changed to allow doctors to prescribe life-saving drugs to eligible patients.
Some 40 percent said they think the association should actively support efforts to change the law, a third said it should oppose assisted death and 20 percent said the BMA should adopt a neutral position. .
And in that survey, half of the members surveyed said they personally believed the law should be changed to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs, while four in 10 were against it and 11 percent were undecided.
Dr John Chisholm, chairman of the BMA Medical Ethics Committee, said: ‘Assisted dying is a highly emotional and sensitive topic that inspires a wide spectrum of views and opinions among the wider public and the medical profession, for which any change in the law would have been. a profound effect.
‘As evidenced by the results of our recent survey of the profession and today’s intense debate, doctors have a wide range of individual views on this important issue, and as such representatives have decided the most appropriate position for the BMA, as That the professional body that represents all doctors and medical students in the UK is to remain neutral on the subject.
‘This is an important day for the BMA and the medical profession, it clearly demonstrates that we as an organization are listening to our broad …