Christian Medical Fellowship urges Royal College of Physicians to ditch biased poll on assisted suicide
The Christian Medical Fellowship strongly urges the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) to ditch their planned biased poll, which requires a 60% supermajority for them remain opposed to assisted suicide.
The doctor’s group has encouraged its members to sign a letter to the head of the RCP, Dr Andrew Goddard, calling on the College ‘to abandon the survey and instead, if it so desires, to conduct polling in the fair and democratic way it has approached previous polls on this issue.’
So far over a thousand doctors, including many CMF members, have signed this letter.
Philippa Taylor, Head of Public Policy at CMF explains: ’Even if 59 per cent of doctors were to oppose assisted suicide in the poll – which is the current position – and only one per cent favour a position of neutrality, the College would go neutral - this would be both absurd and undemocratic.’
‘The current laws on assisted suicide and euthanasia exist to protect those who are sick, elderly, depressed or disabled from feeling obliged to end their lives. It protects those who have no voice against exploitation and coercion. Indeed, the doctors who are often the most opposed to assisted suicide are the palliative care doctors, who look after dying patients every day.
One or two members of the College Council are closely connected with a campaign group that lobbies for assisted suicide and euthanasia, which may have influenced the planned poll. Philippa warns that ‘It is highly likely that the college has come under the influence of several advocates and campaigners for assisted suicide. Getting a College to go ‘neutral’ is often the first step to breaching the defences against assisted suicide. But ‘neutrality’ for a doctor would be equivalent to standing by and saying to a patient ‘I don’t care if you kill yourself’. This should never be an issue for indifference, it must be opposed.’
Notes to editors
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 British doctor, nurse and midwife members in all specialties. A registered charity, it is linked to about 80 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
The CMF exists to unite Christian doctors and nurses to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.
The RCP poll was expected to be carried out this month and ask the following questions:
1. What should the RCP’s position be on whether or not there should be a change in the law to permit assisted dying? a. In favour, b. Opposed, c. Neutral
2. Do you support a change in the law to permit assisted dying? a. Yes, b. No, c. Undecided
3. Regardless of your support or opposition to change, if the law was changed to permit assisted dying, would you be prepared to participate actively? A. Yes, b. No, c. Don’t Know
4. Is there anything else you want to say about this issue?
The results are expected to be released in March.
Philippa Taylor (CMF Head of Public Policy) writes on why a shift to neutrality is dangerous athttps://cmfblog.org.uk/2019/01/16/why-the-royal-college-of-physicians-will-go-neutral-on-assisted-suicide-and-why-that-matters/
CMF’s incoming CEO, Dr Mark Pickering, writes about why concerns about assisted suicide are shared by people of faith and no faith https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2019/01/30/religious-and-non-religious-people-share-objections-to-assisted-suicide/