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RCP adopts least favoured stance

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21st March 2019

'Royal College of Physicians should ditch neutral position as doctors once again oppose assisted suicide, says Care Not Killing'

RCP adopts least favoured stance
Press Release issued on behalf of Care Not Killing

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) should ditch moving to a neutral position as doctors once again vote to oppose changing the law on assisted suicide, says Care Not Killing (CNK).

The survey, which was announced in January and carried out in February, asked fellows and members of the College their view on assisted suicide. However, in an unprecedented step, the RCP announced the College would change its stated policy position before members had cast a single vote and would remain neutral unless 60 per cent - initially two thirds - of respondents were against legalising assisted suicide.

The decision to require a supermajority and a change in position prior to consulting members was challenged by four doctors in the High Court. The doctors argued that the changes were unfair and would not be acceptable from any other organisation that has a privileged position and influence over public policy.

Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing, commented:

'Yet again doctors have shown they do not support changing the law on assisted suicide. Just one in four (24.6 per cent) of those polled would agree to be involved in killing their patients, while half of doctors (49.1 per cent) have yet again confirmed they oppose a change in the law. We hope that the RCP will listen to this message from their members and reverse their absurd decision to adopt a position that is the least popular and commands the support of just one in four of doctors.

'Most doctors are clear that they do not want a change in the law on assisted suicide or euthanasia. They recognise the problems of ripping up long-held universal values that protect the terminally ill, sick and disabled people from feeling pressured into ending their lives - as we have seen in US states of Oregon and Washington where a majority of those opting to kill themselves cite fear of becoming a burden.

'This is why our view is clear, society should be doing everything in our power to prevent suicide, not assist it. Thankfully this is a view shared by most of the medical profession, every major disability rights organisation and a majority of UK Parliamentarians who have consistently voted against changing the law.'

For media inquiries, please contact Alistair Thompson on 07970 162225.


Notes for Editors

The 2019 results in full:

1. What should the RCP's position be on whether or not there should be a change in the law to permit assisted dying?
a. In favour 31.6%, b. Opposed 43.4%, c. Neutral 25.0%

2. Do you support a change in the law to permit assisted dying?
a. Yes 40.5%, b. No 49.1%, c. Undecided 10.4%

3. Regardless of your support or opposition to change, if the law was changed to permit assisted dying, would you be prepared to participate actively?
a. Yes 24.6%, b. No 55.1%, c. Don't know 20.3%

Care Not Killing is a UK-based alliance bringing together around 40 organisations spanning disability rights, healthcare and faith groups, and thousands of concerned individuals. We have three key aims:
  • to promote more and better palliative care;
  • to ensure that existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are not weakened or repealed;
  • to inform public opinion further against any weakening of the law.

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