Radiologist calls on BMA to change its position on assisted dying

The continuing opposition of the British Medical Association (BMA) to assisted dying is at odds with the views of most doctors and patients, and undermines the association's credibility, a U.K. radiologist wrote in an article published on 7 February in the BMJ.

Dr. Jacky Davis, a consultant radiologist at the Whittington Hospital in London, highlighted a recent survey showing that most U.K. doctors support legislation for assisted dying. In addition, a 2015 poll found that approximately 80% of the U.K. public supported a change in the law. The BMA, which represents U.K. doctors, has long been opposed to assisted dying despite calls for it to adopt a neutral stance, she said.

This disconnect undermines the BMA's credibility, and its continuing opposition excludes the group from the public debate on assisted dying, said Davis, who is also a member of BMA Council, a board member of Dignity in Dying, and chair of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying.

Davis noted that other jurisdictions, such as the U.S. state of Oregon, have proved it's possible to change the law, and doctors have shown that such laws can work hand in hand with excellent palliative care. Ultimately, legalization of assisted dying will be a decision for U.K. society, she said.

Davis' article was one of a series published by the BMJ on assisted dying.

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