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British Royal College of Surgeons changes stance on assisted suicide

by | Jun 26, 2023

By Bridget Sielicki 

The Royal College of Surgeons of England announced on June 15 that it is changing its stance on assisted suicide, from “opposed” to “neutral.”

In 2014, the college declared its firm stance in opposition to assisted suicide; however, in 2021, it decided to revisit that position through a survey of its members. Seventy-two percent (72%) of the members who responded to the survey voted for the change in position. Among that 72%, 52% voted for a full acceptance of assisted suicide, while 20% said the group should adopt a position of neutrality. “Following discussion of the survey results at our council meetings, council members voted to move the RCS England to a position of neutrality,” the college said in a statement.

Many supporters of assisted suicide spoke in favor of the change. “I personally believe, as do a growing number of medics, that a safeguarded assisted dying law would improve the relationship between doctors and patients, allowing for more open conversations and greater transparency at the end of life,” said Professor Sir John Graham Temple, former president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. “This debate is not going away and the law will inevitably change. As momentum for reform grows, our profession must seize the opportunity and play our part in determining what law change looks like.”

However, according to the organization CARE, though the majority of responses were in favor of assisted suicide, only 19% of members actually responded to the survey, something the group says indicates doctors are not as supportive as they may seem.

“The fact remains that medics across the UK are strongly opposed to assisted suicide,” said James Mildred, Director of Communications and Engagement at CARE. “It is particularly notable that palliative doctors, who understand end-of-life issues intimately, are overwhelmingly opposed to a change in the law. At the current time, people who have supported ‘assisted dying’ are also re-assessing their support given troubling reports from countries like Canada, where the law is spiraling out of control. Assisted suicide and euthanasia are inherently unsafe, unethical, and unpredictable.

“We must not gamble with lives by allowing these practices in the UK.”

Currently, assisted suicide and euthanasia are not legal in the United Kingdom.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Assisted Suicide