BMA rejects assisted suicide and supports independent abortion counselling
The British Medical Association (BMA) has today rejected a proposed motion which would have changed its position on assisted suicide from ‘opposed’ to ‘neutral’.
In addition, the BMA has also passed a motion calling for women who are considering an abortion to be provided with independent counselling.
The BMA Annual Representative Meeting is held once a year to determine policy for the following year.
Today, the BMA rejected a motion which, if passed, would have changed its position on assisted suicide from “opposed” to “neutral”.
Professor Baroness Illora Finlay commented that the adoption of a neutral position on the issue would send the message that the BMA was in favour of a change in the law, and warned that the safeguards proposed by those championing assisted dying were “no more than a checklist.”
Medical student Rebecca Briscow argued that a position of neutrality would undermine the relationship of trust between patients and medical practitioners, and that doctors were central to safeguarding vulnerable patients.
Ethics Chairman Tony Calland and BMA Chairman Hamish Meldrum both agreed that adopting a position of neutrality would exclude doctors from the debate on assisted dying, yet practitioners should remain involved in order to prevent the law from being influenced by vocal groups supporting assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said:
“This debate was engineered by a small group of doctors who wished to neutralise medical opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia, in order to assist them in their plans to lobby Parliament to change the law.
“In rejecting this move the BMA has sent out a strong message that doctors must play a leading role in this debate which could otherwise be far too easily swayed by celebrity endorsement and media outlets who have consistently acted as the cheerleaders for assisted suicide and euthanasia.
“Majority medical opinion remains opposed to assisted dying and this vote is a victory for common sense. We hope that the BMA will now continue its valuable work in campaigning for high quality compassionate care for patients at the end of life.”
The BMA also considered a motion that called for it to support the provision of universal non-directive counselling for women facing a crisis pregnancy.
Dr Pickering stated in the debate that providing women with abortion counselling, independent from the abortion providers themselves, would widen the choices available to women facing a crisis pregnancy.
The BMA voted in agreement with Dr Pickering and passed the motion supporting independent counselling.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:
“The BMA’s support for the provision of non-directive counselling for women considering an abortion is excellent news ahead of the Government’s consultation on this issue.
“Currently, women who are facing a crisis pregnancy usually receive counselling from the very clinic that is paid for carrying out the termination. This creates a conflict of interest that places the mental and physical health of women at significant risk.
“Women facing unplanned pregnancies must receive impartial advice from councillors who have no financial interest in the uptake of abortion.”
Care Not Killing Rally
Christian Concern is calling on its supporters to attend a rally and mass lobby of Parliament, aimed at resisting the weakening of end of life laws, organised by Care Not Killing on 3 July from 10am to 4pm at the Emmanuel Centre, 9-23 Marsham Street, London.
Speakers include Ann Widdecombe, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Jim Dobbin MP, Fiona Bruce MP, Dr Peter Saunders and others.
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