Doctors are concerned that changing the law to permit assisted dying would alter society’s attitudes towards the vulnerable, peers have been told.
The BMA warns that old or disabled people who are terminally ill might be seen as burdensome and put under pressure to end their lives should Assisted Dying Bill proposals become law, despite promised safeguards to prevent this.
A BMA briefing for peers who were set to debate the bill at its second reading tomorrow says: ‘It would be an undesirable outcome if allowing assisted dying generated a perception that some lives are worth less than others, or made people consider assisted dying to be an option they ought to consider.’
The bill is being championed by Lord Falconer. It would allow adults with six months or less to live to be given assistance to end their lives.
Two doctors would have to be satisfied the person was terminally ill, had the capacity to make the decision and had a clear intent to die. Doctors would then be able to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs.
The BMA briefing insists legalising assisted dying would be contrary to the ethics of clinical practice and would give doctors a role that is ‘alien to the doctor-patient relationship’.
The association remains opposed to physician-assisted suicide.
Read the BMA briefing
Find out about the BMA's policy on assisted dying
The story so far