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CMF welcomes Royal College of Physicians' statement clarifying it 'does not support a change in the law to permit assisted dying'

Published: 30th March 2020

The Christian Medical Fellowship has welcomed the statement by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), clarifying its position and confirming it 'does not support a change in the law to permit assisted dying at this time'. Commenting on its decision, CMF's CEO, Dr Mark Pickering, said:
'The push towards neutrality at the time of the RCP members' survey came from longstanding campaigners for assisted dying, such as Prof Raymond Tallis. He was clear that RCP neutrality would remove an obstacle in the campaigners' efforts to change the law. This call for neutrality resulted in the College deciding, before the poll, that it would move to neutrality unless 60% voted either to support or to oppose legal change; an achievement that was virtually impossible in a three-way vote. Hence neutrality was imposed despite the highest number of votes clearly opposing legal change.

'Predictably, the RCP's move to unqualified neutrality was immediately hijacked by assisted dying campaigners, who referred to the RCP 'dropping opposition' to legal change. This interpretation of the RCP's neutral position led directly to similar calls for the British Medical Association to go neutral. This was evidenced by assisted dying campaigner Paul Lamb in his renewed challenge to existing law in May 2019.

'We are very grateful to the College for recognising the confusion that has been sown as a result of its initial decision. We are also grateful to them for clarifying that the RCP "does not support a change in the law to permit assisted dying at the present time".

'Furthermore, the RCP has reiterated that "professional and clinical issues pose significant challenges to the success of any future legislation", that there remain "many shortcomings in the provision of palliative care" and that "the majority of doctors would be unwilling to participate actively in assisted dying if the law were changed to permit it".

'The RCP's very welcome clarification comes shortly after the Royal College of General Practitioners maintained its own opposition to assisted dying in February after a members' poll. In that poll neutrality was again the least favoured option. We very much hope that the British Medical Association will take careful note of both these decisions as it debates its own policy on physician-assisted dying later this year.

'Neutrality of medical organisations has been a key strategy of assisted dying campaigners since 2018, as a stepping stone to law change. We are grateful to the RCP for clarifying its position in the face of such cynical attempts to neutralise the concerns of the 43.4% of its members who voted to oppose legal change.'

For further information:

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 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.

CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals 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
Contact Phone020 7234 9660
Contact Address6 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1HL
© 2022 Christian Medical Fellowship. A company limited by guarantee.
Registered in England no. 6949436. Registered Charity no. 1131658.
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