Euthanasia is being debated at a major BMA meeting later this month.

The British Medical Association (BMA) holds its annual representative meeting, where it sets policy for the next year, in Bournemouth in the last week of June.

A very large number of motions on euthanasia are listed on the
agenda for the section on medical ethics on Wednesday 27 June.

In total 45 motions on ethics have been listed for the 95 minute session which is scheduled from 1000am to 1135am and no less than 20 deal with euthanasia.

14 of these motions support a relaxation of the BMA's position and 6 support the status quo of opposition to a change in the law.

Nine of the 14 motions supporting relaxation call for the BMA to adopt a neutral position on 'assisted dying' and use almost identical wording despite coming through five different BMA divisions - Shropshire, North West Regional Council, Retired Members Forum, Islington and Suffolk.

The language of all these motions is that of the campaigning group Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society) and without doubt they represent a carefully orchestrated ploy by the pressure group
Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD), which operates under the DID umbrella, to soften up medical and public opinion in advance of a new assault on the law.

This latest move is
part of a larger campaign that Dignity in Dying is running over the next month leading up to a celebrity-endorsed lobby on parliament on 4 July.

HPAD originally registered as Healthcare Professionals for Change in October 2010 but has since changed its name.

It contains
a number of well-recognised campaigners for the legalisation of various forms of euthanasia including former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris. Overall it has 520 supporters listed on its website.

Being a trade union, the BMA is particularly susceptible to moves by small pressure groups.

Motions at the ARM are always prioritised and it is likely that one euthanasia motion (332) will be debated. The rest are very unlikely to be reached.

But the union has always been opposed to any change of the law to allow euthanasia or assisted suicide apart from one year of its history (2005-2006) when it was briefly neutral.

The wording of the motion likely to be debated is below.

The motion likely to be debated:


That this Meeting:-

i) believes that assisted dying is a matter for society and not for the medical profession;

ii) believes that the BMA should adopt a neutral position on change in the law on assisted dying.