Last year the British Medical Association abandoned a decades-old policy of opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia in a controversial vote at its annual meeting. But its fling with neutrality ended abruptly last week. Members at this year’s meeting voted to reverse the decision by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.
Dr Michael Wilks, the chairman of the BMA ethics committee, and a supporter of euthanasia, glumly attributed the change of heart to ballots carried out by three major doctors’ associations which showed that a clear majority opposed changing the law on euthanasia in Britain. The result was a triumph by the lobby group Care Not Killing, an alliance of church, palliative care and disability groups. Its campaign director, Dr Peter Saunders, commented that “If good palliative care is provided, requests for euthanasia are extremely rare. We should be doing all we can to make sure that this care is made more widely available.”
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