The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has come out in support of a bill to legalise assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.
However, the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents doctors in the United Kingdom said the pro-assisted suicide position of the BMJ does not reflect the views of the BMA, which remains firmly against legalising assisted dying.
According to the Christian Institute, the BMJ in an editorial expressed support for Lord Falconer's Bill, which seeks to change the law to allow terminally ill patients to obtain lethal drugs to kill themselves, and is currently being debated in the House of Lords.
“People should be able to exercise choice over their lives, which should include how and when they die, when death is imminent”, the editorial said.
But Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the BMA council, said the pro-assisted suicide position of the BMJ does not reflect the views of the BMA or the medical profession.
“The BMA remains firmly opposed to legalising assisted dying. This issue has been regularly debated at the BMA’s policy forming annual conference and recent calls for a change in the law have persistently been rejected”, he said. “Our focus must be on making sure every patient can access the very best of palliative care, which empowers patients to make decisions over their care”, he added.
The Falconer Bill will have its second reading on the 18th of July. The government have promised a free vote on the issue in the House of Commons.