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Royal College of Physicians to “vote” on assisted dying

According to a report in The Daily Telegraph this week, almost half of GPs in the UK would want the option of “assisted dying” for themselves if they were terminally ill and suffering unbearable pain. This comes at a time when the Royal College of Physicians is conducting a poll of its members which many observers believe to be “rigged”. Currently the RCP opposes assisted dying but its leadership say that it will move to a neutral position, unless there is a 60 per cent majority either for or against. Critics of the poll point out that this would in effect change the RCP’s stance on the basis of a minority vote.

We believe human life is a gift from God. We are stewards, not autonomous owners, of that gift. As God’s image bearers we do not have the right to determine the time and the circumstances of our death. Euthanasia makes a mockery of the ethics and practice of proper medicine. The Hippocratic Oath specifically forbids it.

We also are deeply concerned that legalising assisted suicide will expose the vulnerable, the elderly, the sick, the disabled and their carers to huge pressure to “do the right thing”. Sadly, we expect that once the door is opened to this practice, the slide from voluntary to involuntary euthanasia will inevitably follow.

Good and wise palliative care that respects life and death is the antidote to calls for the legalisation of euthanasia. The hospice movement and modern palliative care methods have made wonderful advances in helping people to die well and we should support them in that.

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