13:27, February 24 200 0 theguardian.com

2020-02-24 13:27:06
End the British Medical Association’s opposition to assisted dying

As medical practitioners increasingly recognise the importance of autonomy and include the public in the planning and delivery of healthcare, it has become vital to listen to and engage with patients’ wishes. Yet, when it comes to assisted dying, we have become out of step.

In 2006, the British Medical Association moved to oppose assisted dying. Even back then, polls indicated considerable public support for assisted dying, and people rarely travelled abroad to end their life.

But in the years since, public support for a change in the law has risen to around 90%. Despite the best efforts of palliative care, at least one UK citizen a week is forced to leave their home and travel to Switzerland to have an assisted death – which at best is a decision fraught with emotional and financial cost, and at worst involves someone ending their life before they would otherwise wish.

It is time for change. Over 150 million people worldwide have gained the option of a safeguarded assisted death, as more countries, including Canada, have changed their laws. If other countries can achieve this in a safe and legal manner, why can’t we?

The BMA’s survey on assisted dying closes this Thursday. We urge members to vote in support of reform.

Andrew Copson Chief executive, Humanists UK, Carrie Hynds Chair, Assisted Dying Coalition, Trevor Moore Chair, My Death, My Decision, Fraser Sutherland Chief executive, Humanist Society Scotland, Michael Talibard Deputy coordinator, End of Life Choices Jersey, Peter Warren Chair, Friends at the End, Stacey Adam Assisted dying campaigner, Dr Julian Baggini Associate reader in philosophy, University of Kent, Prof Helen Beebee Samuel Hall professor of philosophy, University of Manchester, Peter Cave Lecturer in philosophy for the Open University and City, University of London, and chair of the Humanist Philosophers Group, Prof Matthew Clayton Professor of political theory, University of Warwick, Prof John Dupré Professor of philosophy of science, University of Exeter, Dr Nicholas Everitt Senior research fellow in philosophy, University of East Anglia, Prof AC Grayling Master, New College of the Humanities, Prof John Harris Professor emeritus, University of Manchester; visiting professor in bioethics, department of global health and social medicine, King’s College London; and distinguished research fellow, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, faculty of philosophy, University of Oxford, Dr Alan Haworth Philosopher and author, Dr Peter J King Lecturer in philosophy, Pembroke College, Oxford, Prof Maggie Kinloch Professor emerita and former deputy principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Dr Michael Irwin Former medical director for the United Nations, Dr Henry Marsh Author and neurosurgeon, Rev Dr Scott S McKenna, Prof Sheila McLean Emeritus professor of law and ethics in medicine, University of Glasgow, Prof Richard Norman Emeritus professor of moral philosophy, University of Kent, Prof Eric Olson Professor of philosophy, University of Sheffield, Prof Janet Radcliffe Richards Professor of practical philosophy, University of Oxford, Melanie Reid Author and journalist, Dr Wendy Savage Former member of the GMC and BMA’s medical ethics committee, Dr Martin Scurr GP and medical adviser, Doc Martin, Prof Peter Simons Professor of philosophy, Trinity College Dublin, Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat, House of Lords, Prof Raymond Tallis Emeritus professor of geriatric medicine, University of Manchester, Nigel Warburton Freelance philosopher, Prof John White Emeritus professor of philosophy of education, University College London

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