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Doctors remain opposed to legalization of euthanasia: Royal College of Physicians “clarifies” position after legal challenge

Summary

  • The London-based Royal College of Physicians has clarified its stance on assisted suicide after an internal poll
  • Human rights expert: “We see now, more than ever, the importance of caring for the most vulnerable in our society.”

LONDON (31 March 2020) – The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has clarified its position on assisted suicide. The RCP has long opposed the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide in the UK but changed its position to “neutral” after conducting a poll in 2019. Following a legal challenge brought by four doctors, the RCP has clarified that it does not support a change in the law to permit assisted dying,” and stated that the majority of doctors would be unwilling to participate actively in assisted dying if the law were changed to permit it.” 

We see now, more than ever, the importance of caring for the most vulnerable in our society. The Royal College of Physicians, an organisation of doctors who have chosen to dedicate their work to saving lives, should stay true to this calling. By clarifying its stance on euthanasia, it has taken a step in the right direction and pushed back against those who have sought to misrepresent and instrumentalise the 2019 vote to push for a change in UK law. The detrimental effects of euthanasia on individuals and society have become very clear in countries that have already gone down this path. There is nothing progressive about a society that refuses to care for its most vulnerable members. Given what the RCP represents, it would have been disappointing to see the organisation abandon its established opposition to euthanasia especially when the change is promoted by a small minority with political motives,” said Robert Clarke, Deputy Director of ADF International. 

Challenge to the poll 

The RCP represents more than 35,000 doctors and has long been formally opposed to the legalisation of euthanasia. It announced that it would conduct a poll of its members on euthanasia in January 2019. 43.4% of respondents said that the organisation should be opposed to a change in the law and 25% said it should be neutral. Despite this, the College adopted an unprecedented requirement that unless a specific view received a super majority of 60%, it would adopt the neutral position.  

The largest euthanasia lobby group in the UK has previously identified the opposition of medical bodies as a key obstacle to changing the law. 

Euthanasia laws and the threat they pose to society

The introduction of euthanasia laws in other European countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, have seen the number of the euthanasia deaths increase every year. In Belgium, these laws were amended in 2014 to also include children. For example, according to the most recent government report, more than six people per day are killed in this way in Belgium, and that may yet be the tip of the iceberg. 

The RCP’s statement that it does not support a change in the law on assisted suicide is a strong re-affirmation of the value of all human life. In the midst of the current crisis,  this is an important message for our society and for the many thousands of health care workers who have dedicated their lives to protecting the most vulnerable,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International. 

Visit AffirmDignity.org for more information on the effect of euthanasia on society. 

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Faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.