Monday, June 24, 2019

Care Not Killing responds to Doctors’ Group decision to consult its members about their views on assisted suicide and euthanasia

Press Release issued on behalf of Care Not Killing
Sunday June 23, 2019
Care Not Killing notes the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) decision to consult its members about their views on assisted suicide and euthanasia, but warns that the survey must not “pre-determine” the results or rig the ballot. 
Dr Gordon MacDonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing commented: 
“It is sensible for respected groups like the RCGP to ask its members about their views important medical and ethical issues, but any survey must be independent and not pre-determine the result or try to rig the ballot, as we saw in the recent poll of members of the RCP (Royal College of Physicians).

“Worryingly the RCP decided to change their position unless there was an unprecedented 60 per cent supermajority in favour of retaining their opposition to assisted suicide, which ensured the college now has a neutral position on this issue. Yet that position was supported by just one in four doctors. No wonder there has been large-scale opposition to the way the poll was conducted, including a legal challenge and resignation by senior members of the ethics Committee of the RCP.

“A detailed analysis of the RCP poll results found significant opposition to changing the law among those doctors who care for patients at the end of life. This included 84.3 per cent of palliative care doctors and 80 per cent of trauma doctors.

“Most doctors are clear that they do not want a change in the law on assisted suicide or euthanasia. They recognise the dangers of ripping up long-held universal values that protect the terminally ill, sick and disabled people from feeling pressured into ending their lives because they fear becoming a care or financial burden.

“They also understand the evidence that legalising assisted suicide appears to normalise suicide in the general population. In Oregon, the place often used as a model by those promoting a change in the law, suicide rates are now 45 per cent higher than the national US average. Similar trends can be observed in Holland and Belgium.

“They also understand how changing the law is likely to fundamentally alter the doctor-patient relationship, as evidenced by a recent ComRes poll. When 2,000 members of the public were asked if GPs were given the power to help patients commit suicide it would fundamentally change the relationship between a doctor and patient, twice as many said it would (48 per cent to 23 per cent), while nearly 3 in ten (29 per cent) were not sure.”
Dr Macdonald concluded: 
“Care Not Killing looks forward to setting out the reasons why members of the Royal College of General Practitioner should continue to oppose any change to the law. Something that is shared by a majority of the medical profession, every major disability rights organisation and a majority of UK Parliamentarians who have voted against changing the law more than a dozen times since 2004.”
For media inquiries, please contact Alistair Thompson on 07970 162225.

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