Royal College of Physicians clarifies it does not support ‘assisted dying’.

The RCP has made clear in a statement that it does not support a change in the law

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has clarified its position on physician-assisted suicide, (PAS) almost a year after first publishing the results of its consultation on the subject.

On March 30 2019, the RCP controversially announced that despite the fact the majority of respondents said that they opposed PAS, the college would be changing its official position to one of neutrality, prompting criticism from various quarters.

But the RCP has now further clarified its position on PAS, stating very clearly that it does not support a change in the law:

“So that there can be no doubt, the RCP clarifies that it does not support a change in the law to permit assisted dying at the present time.”

The statement also notes, “the majority of doctors would be unwilling to participate actively in assisted dying if the law were changed to permit it, with only 25% indicating a willingness to do so.”

While it remains questionable that the RCP continues to maintain a position of neutrality given a majority of its members oppose assisted suicide, the college’s statement should still be welcomed.

First of all, it makes clear that despite pressure from supporters of a change in the law, the majority of medical professionals do not support PAS, which sends an important message to Parliament and society.  After all, doctors are surely some of the best placed individuals to judge whether legalising physician-assisted suicide is a sensible and safe proposal.

Crucially, the statement also reminds readers that the vast majority of the survey’s respondents want nothing to do with PAS, particularly doctors who care for the dying. 

It is time for campaigners who incessantly call for doctor-centred legislation, to sit up and take notice.