Royal College of Physicians polls members, likely to go neutral on euthanasia


The UK’s Royal College of Physicians (RCP) will next month poll its members on their views on assisted suicide and euthanasia. Specifically, the poll will ask respondents about their views on euthanasia, and whether they think that the College should remain opposed to “assisted dying”, or whether it should adopt a position of neutrality or support.

In a statement, the RCP said: “following this new poll, the RCP will adopt a neutral position until two-thirds of respondents say that it should be in favour of or opposed to a change in the law”. That is to say, unless two thirds of respondents say they oppose euthanasia, the College will change its position to one of neutrality.

Opponents say the move represents the first step toward adopting a position of support for euthanasia, and have criticised the behind-the-scenes lobbying of euthanasia activists within the College. Writing on the Christian Medical Fellowship blog, policy analyst Philippa Taylor said:

neutrality is a murky concept. In this case, declaring oneself ‘neutral’ on the subject is equivalent to watching and standing by while someone jumps off a bridge or into a train. Logically, neutrality implies that ‘we are no longer opposed’.

Professor Raymond Tallis, a geriatrician and well-known proponent of voluntary euthanasia, is a member of the RCP Council that has called for the new poll.

The College polled its members just five years ago on the same topic. 58.4% of participants said they would not be willing to “participate actively” in euthanasia should it be legalised. 44.4% of respondents thought the RCP should be opposed to assisted dying, 31.0% thought it should be neutral or have no stance and 24.6% opted for the RCP being in favour.

The RCP is one of the oldest medical colleges in the world, and is very influential within Britain as well as internationally. Critics are fearful of the ramifications that the RCP’s likely switch to neutrality will have on broader opinion within medical community.




MORE ON THESE TOPICS | euthanasia, law, royal college of physicians, uk

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 
 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

 
comments powered by Disqus