UK & World News
The latest UK & World news stories from the Press Association.
'Neutrality' call on assisted dying
00:05, Jun 14 2012
Professional medical bodies should stop opposing assisted dying and take a neutral stance, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has said.
In an editorial, the journal warns that legislation on helping the terminally ill die is a decision for society, not for doctors.
It mentions a new poll, commissioned by campaign group Dignity In Dying, which found that 62% of doctors want medical bodies to take a neutral stance on the delicate subject.
Fiona Godlee, BMJ editor-in-chief, writes: "Doctors hold the means but the decision rests with society and its representatives in Parliament. A change in the law, with all the necessary safeguards, is an almost inevitable consequence of the societal move towards greater individual autonomy and patient choice.
"But it may take a while, and it may not happen until we value death as one of life's central events and learn to see bad deaths in the same damning light as botched abortions."
Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD), wants the British Medical Association (BMA) and royal colleges to move their position from opposition to neutrality. HPAD's chairman Raymond Tallis, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine, also writes in the journal.
He said: "At the heart of the case for neutrality is that the decriminalisation of assisted dying should be a matter for society as a whole to decide, and no particular group should have disproportionate influence on this decision.
"Given the overwhelming support for assisted dying in society as a whole and given also that there are healthcare professionals of good will, different faiths, and expertise in palliative care, with passionate views on both sides of the debate, we believe that the proper stance of healthcare professional bodies is one of neutrality."
However, Dr Peter Saunders of pressure group Care Not Killing said: "This is a carefully orchestrated move by a small minority of doctors with extreme views aimed at neutralising medical opposition and softening up public and parliamentary opinion in advance of new pressure to change the law."
He said a change in the law "would place pressure on vulnerable sick, elderly and disabled people to end their lives for fear of being a financial or emotional burden on loved ones" which is "the very last thing we need" at a time when many families "are already under considerable financial pressure".
Pair in court over officer's death 14:05, Feb 11 2013
Two homeless men have been charged with causing the death of a young police officer whose patrol car was hit by a stolen 4x4 in Londonderry. more
Pope hailed over decision to quit 14:05, Feb 11 2013
The three most senior figures in the Catholic Church in England and Wales have paid tribute to Pope Benedict XVI after the Pontiff announced he was leaving office on grounds of age and infirmity. more
Cable urges open business policy 13:05, Feb 11 2013
Britain must make sure its borders are "as open as possible" to genuine foreign business visitors and investment, Business Secretary Vince Cable has said. more
Tributes for killed photojournalist 13:05, Feb 11 2013
The family of award-winning British photojournalist Tim Hetherington, who was killed covering the Libyan civil war, have described him as a "wonderful humanitarian". more
BBC staff threaten one-day strike 13:05, Feb 11 2013
BBC journalists are to stage a one-day strike unless the corporation agrees to end compulsory redundancies, it has been warned. more
Briton death sentence appeal filed 10:05, Feb 11 2013
An Indonesian lawyer representing a convicted British grandmother has formally appealed against the death sentence she received for smuggling cocaine worth 2.5 million US dollars (£1.58 million) into the resort island of Bali in a suitcase. more
Legal action plan in horse meat row 09:05, Feb 11 2013
Legal action over the horse meat scandal is to be mounted in Europe, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said as he described the contamination of beef products as a case of fraud against the public. more
Snow triggers weather warnings 06:05, Feb 11 2013
Parts of the country are waking up to more than four inches of snow, prompting fears of ice and disruption during rush hour. more