Majority of doctors and public support assisted dying, medical journal shows
Over half of doctors agreed assisted dying should be legalised in certain circumstances, a survey revealed.
A majority of UK doctors and the general public support assisted dying, according to a series of articles in the British Medical Journal.
Over half of doctors agreed that assisted dying should be legalised in certain circumstances, according to a survey of 733 doctors referenced in an article by cardiologist Jacky Davis.
The form of assisted dying in the survey involves a doctor supplying lethal drugs to a mentally sound patient with a terminal illness, leaving the patient to take the drugs of their own accord.
The British Medical Association, an organisation of doctors, is officially opposed to assisted dying.
“The current disconnect between BMA policy and the views of doctors and patients undermines the BMA’s credibility”, Dr Davis said in her article.
Dr Davis also noted a 2015 poll commissioned by Campaign for Dignity in Dying which found that 82% of the public wanted assisted dying to be legalised.
“The great majority of the British public are in favour and there is now good evidence that it works well in other parts of the world,” said Dr Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the BMJ.
“The BMJ supports the legalisation of assisted dying” said Dr Godlee.
Campaigners against assisted dying disputed the evidence put forward by the BMJ.
“More detailed polling reveals serious concerns about safeguards and protecting people who are vulnerable, terminally ill and disabled,” said Dr Peter Saunders of Care Not Killing, which campaigns against assisted dying.
“A Comres Poll in 2014 showed that public support for euthanasia drops to below 50% when the five main arguments against it are heard”, said Dr Saunders.
“The safest law is the one we have, which gives blanket prohibition on all assisted suicide and euthanasia.
“It deters exploitation and abuse, but at the same time gives some discretion to prosecutors and judges to temper justice with mercy in hard cases.”
The BMA said it undertook a survey of its members in 2016 which resulted in members voting to remain opposed to assisted dying.
A spokesperson added: “What is clear is that there is a lack of consistency in the standard of palliative care throughout England, and the priority of the government and doctors must be on providing the best quality care to patients as they reach the end of their lives, regardless of where they live or their medical condition.”