In a significant public relations victory for the assisted dying lobby in the United Kingdom, the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) has voted to drop its opposition to assisted dying. The College is now officially “neutral” on whether doctors should be allowed to kill patients.
The change was made after 72% of members who responded to an online survey declared that they were in favour of changing the College’s position. However, the 3000 members who responded represented only 19% of the College’s membership. Of these, 52% backed assisted suicide and 20% the adoption of neutrality.
This development leaves the Royal College of General Practitioners as only Royal College which still opposed to changing the law to permit assisted suicide.
A report published by the College explains the methodology of the survey. The surgeons were promoted through emails in February and March. Those who did not respond were sent up to four reminder emails. Of the entire UK membership of 17,600, only 3,268 responded. According to the report, “This provides a large sample size for confident and robust statistical analysis.”
Afterwards, the College Council debated the results in April and May. “A majority vote was cast in favour of adopting a neutral position on the issue,” says the College.