The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is to maintain its opposition to assisted suicide, following a survey of its members.

The independent survey of 6,674 members – 13 per cent of those consulted – found that 47 per cent said the College should oppose a change in the law on assisted suicide.

Of the remainder, 40 per cent felt the College should back a change, eleven per cent favoured neutrality, and two per cent abstained.

Palliative care

The RCGP Council said it would not review the College’s position on assisted suicide for at least five years “unless there are significant developments on the issue”.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the RCGP said: “This was the largest consultation on an issue of public policy that the College has conducted both in terms of response rate and volume of respondents.

“The survey results have been helpful in guiding College Council as to what our position should be.

“The role of the College now is to ensure that patients receive the best possible palliative and end of life care, and to this end we are working with Marie Curie and others to support this.”

Protections

Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing, commented: “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.

“We are pleased that the Royal College of General Practitioners recognise this and the dog whistle message that singling out the terminally ill and disabled people would send.

“As Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson said: ‘Legalising assisted suicide will only serve to reinforce deep seated prejudices that the lives of sick and disabled people aren’t worth as much as other people’s.’”

Sanctity of life

James Mildred, Communications Manager at CARE, said: “It is very welcome that the RCGP has announced it will retain its official position of being opposed to all forms of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“No other major professional medical body supports changing the law to introduce assisted suicide of any kind.

He added: “Vulnerable people need the protection of the current law and to know that medical professionals truly have their best interests at heart.”

The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “We welcome this wonderful news that GPs around the country have chosen to uphold the sanctity of life”.

Republished by permission of the Christian Institute.

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