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New assisted suicide challenge shows further misuse of RCP neutrality poll, says CMF

Published: 7th May 2019


Paul Lamb's renewed legal challenge to existing assisted suicide law cites the recent controversial decision of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) to change to a neutral position on assisted suicide. This linking highlights the widespread public confusion caused by the RCP's misguided decision to change position, says the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF).
Their warning comes after Mr Lamb, who has been paralysed for almost 30 years, launched a legal bid to change the law that prevents him from obtaining medication from a doctor to commit suicide.
The court case has been launched a little over a month after the Royal College of Physicians controversially adopted a neutral position, despite only one in four (25 per cent) of those surveyed backing the change.
CMF's CEO, Dr Mark Pickering, commented: "We repeatedly warned that the RCP's decision to change its position, in advance of the recent poll, would be seized upon by those seeking a change in the law, something the current President of the RCP denied would happen. Now the College's bizarre and undemocratic decision is being used to justify this legal challenge, which is not warranted by the actual RCP poll result, and goes beyond the scope of the Marris Bill that was soundly defeated by Parliament in 2015."
A detailed analysis of the RCP poll results found significantly greater opposition to going neutral among those doctors who care for patients at the end of life. 80.9% of palliative care doctors and 60% of trauma doctors opposed going neutral and wanted the College to remain opposed to assisted suicide. This compared to 100 per cent of occupational health medics and half of dermatologists, who said they were in favour of neutrality.
Dr Pickering concluded: "It is now clear that the public influence of respected doctors' groups like the Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association must not be underestimated. They cannot take finely nuanced stances on assisted suicide without being spun by those wanting to change the law. We warned that the RCP's neutrality decision would be starkly presented as 'Doctors drop opposition to assisted suicide.' This is exactly what has happened."


For further information:

Philippa Taylor (CMF Head of Public Policy) 020 7234 9664
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668

Media Enquiries:

Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225

About CMF:

Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 4,000 British doctor members in all branches of medicine. A registered charity, it is linked to about 65 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.

CMF exists to unite Christian doctors to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.

Christian Medical Fellowship:
uniting & equipping Christian doctors & nurses
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