The British Medical Association (BMA) has dropped its opposition to assisted dying and adopted a neutral stance on the issue.
The doctors’ union, which represents about 150,000 medics, voted to change its official position following a debate by members at its annual representative meeting in London. It had opposed legalising assisted dying since 2006.
A BMA survey in 2020 found for the first time that doctors in support of a law change outnumbered those against.
The poll, which heard from almost 29,000 doctors and medical students, showed that 50% personally believed doctors should be able to prescribe life-ending drugs for patients to take themselves – 39% opposed this and 11% were undecided.
Polls have found a majority of voters back a change. The landmark decision by the BMA, one of Britain’s most influential medical bodies, is likely to be seized upon by campaigners seeking to change the law.
The Royal College of Physicians, the oldest medical college in England, dropped its opposition to assisted dying and adopted a neutral stance on the issue in 2019.