Richard Hurley, Tessa Richards, Fiona Godlee
Doctors’ views on assisted dying are split, and most doctors’ organisations take no position on the issue; a few—including the BMA—oppose legalisation. Their stance matters: lawmakers and judges regularly seek, and listen to, their views. The BMJ has called for the professions’ representatives to take a position of neutrality—neither in support nor opposition—on the grounds that doctors should not obstruct a decision that is for society and parliament to make.
Engaged neutrality is far from an abdication of responsibility. It honours the diversity in professionals’ opinion. We believe that it also enables organisations to facilitate and fully engage with much needed societal conversations about death and what it means to die well.
Neutral organisations can be closely involved in drafting laws and guidelines, which would be impossible if they opposed their existence. They can lobby for the interests of doctors who do not wish to participate, as well as of doctors who do. . .
Hurley R, Richards T, Godlee F. (Editorial) Assisted dying: a question of when, not if. Br. Med. J. 2021;374(2128)