April 20, 2024

Ethics chief for British doctors favours assisted suicide

The chairman of the ethics committee of the British Medical Association says that he supports the right to assisted suicide. Dr Michael Wilkes says that “if competent people can now make legally binding decisions to refuse life-saving treatment… to then go a little bit further where people could make competent decisions to determine the time and the way they die, how big a step is that? Legally it is huge. It goes from perfectly legal to [a] life sentence. But morally and ethically, is it that much of a difference? If it is not, why is there such a difference between the two?”

A proposal to legalise assisted suicide will be debated next week at the BMA’s annual conference. Although support for the change is said to be growing, especially amongst younger doctors, many are still opposed. Dr Ian Bailey, a chemical pathologist, says that terminally ill patients should be offered better palliative care rather than the option of assisted suicide