On March 21, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) dropped its longstanding opposition to assisted dying. Now it has taken a neutral stance on this topic. With this stance, the organisation now represents its members’ views.
More than a month ago, a poll of the British campaign group Dignity in Dying, showed that most British GPs think that the organisations that represent them, should drop opposition to assisted dying and adopt a ‘neutral stance’. After this poll, the RCP organised an own online survey, carried out between 5 February and 1 March. To the question whether their members personally support a change in the law on assisted dying, 40,5% responded yes, an increasement of 8 % since 2014. The members who opposed it fell from 57.5% to 49.1%. The survey was completed by 6,885 respondents from more than 30 specialties.
The RCP is the oldest medical college in England and the first to drop the opposition to assisted dying. This shift will allow the RCP to accurately reflect the range of views among its members and to contribute its expertise to the debate in a more balanced way. The RCP will now join the Royal College of Nursing, and medical associations around the world which have taken a balanced and compassionate stance on this issue. (Read here the press release of Dignity in Dying.)
A small group of doctors with long-standing links to pro-life organisations tried to bring a legal case against the RCP, but without effect: their case is refused by the High Court in London.