British Medical Association Reaffirms Opposition to Assisted Suicide at Conference
by Steven Ertelt
July 2, 2009
London, England (LifeNews.com) — The British Medical Association reaffirmed its opposition to assisted suicide at its annual conference yesterday. Despite an attempt by MPs to legalize the practice or allow so-called suicide tourism, doctors rejected a call from BMA member Kailash Chand to change its long-held views.
Chand hoped to get the BMA to support a position allowing assisted suicide in cases where a patient is terminally ill and has the mental capacity to consent to killing himself.
Doctors also rejected calls to support a position against prosecuting physicians who break the law by participating in an assisted suicide.
The motion, which encompassed both issues, was voted down 53-45 percent.
Dr Brian Keighley, Deputy Chairman of the BMA in Scotland, responded to the votes.
"It is clear that doctors do not wish to play a role in assisting a patient’s death," he said. "Assisting patients to die prematurely is not part of the moral ethos or the primary goal of medicine. If the legislation were to be changed, it would have serious negative consequences on the relationship between doctors and their patients."
Keighley focused on alternatives and patient care as the right approach instead of death.
"It remains vital that access to the best quality palliative care is available in order to ensure that terminal suffering is properly managed," he said.
Baroness Ilora Finlay, a professor of palliative medicine, represented the views of many doctors when she said current laws against assisted suicide have "a kind heart and a hard head."
"Not all assisted suicides is the termination of a life long, loving relationship," she said, to loud applause.
In addition to efforts in the British Parliament to promote assisted suicide, Independent MSP Margo Macdonald has secured sufficient support to introduce a bill to legalize assisted suicide in the Scottish Parliament.
The BMA members also defeated a proposal to allow suicide tourism, by calling for family members not to be punished when they take loved ones to another European nation to kill themselves.
Doctors also voted down a proposal which would have criticized a plan to allow advertising for abortion businesses on British television.
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