by Care Not Killing, 21 June 2016
Having decisively lost attempts to legalise euthanasia in Scotland and England last year, the Death With Dignity group has tried yet again to push the British Medical Association to change its position from opposed to neutral. They lost 198 to 115.
Ultimately, much rested on the meaning of ‘neutrality’. Advocates said that by not taking a stance, the BMA could speak on the basis of the evidence while not excluding any members who are in favour. Quite apart from the fact that policy in opposition to assisted suicide is evidence-based, Baroness Hollins rightly commented that the BMA would never have any policies if all sides were always given equal weight. Dr Kevin O’Kane asked: why would the BMA go neutral on whether doctors can help kill their patients? He described neutrality as ‘facilitative’; Dr Pickering said it wasn’t about choosing neutrality, but being neutralised and would be read as dropping opposition; and Baroness Finlay said it would be perceived as doctors actively changing their minds on assisted suicide.
Dr Mowat was clearest of all though: a move to medical neutrality would indicate acceptance or indifference to assisted suicide, and where doctors have surrendered their opposition abroad, it removed a major obstacle to legislation.
This is the 8th time in 13 years the BMA has debated this issue, because the euthanasia lobby simply will not accept no. They know that “getting doctors to neutral” is central to their political strategy, as shown in California and Canada.
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