Doc­tors to be polled on as­sisted dy­ing

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS -

Doc­tors will be asked if they would help a ter­mi­nally ill pa­tient to die and whether the law should be changed to al­low as­sisted dy­ing.

The Royal Col­lege of Physi­cians is to poll its 35,000 mem­bers and fel­lows next month on whether or not there should be a change in the law to per­mit as­sisted dy­ing.

It will also ask whether its mem­bers would be pre­pared to “par­tic­i­pate ac­tively” in as­sisted dy­ing if the law was changed.

RCP pres­i­dent Pro­fes­sor An­drew God­dard said the sur­vey, which will be emailed out next month, was es­sen­tial to the col­lege un­der­stand­ing its mem­bers’ views.

He added: “The Royal Col­lege of Physi­cians is fre­quently asked for its stance on this high-pro­file is­sue, which may be cited in le­gal cases and par­lia­men­tary de­bate, so it is es­sen­tial that we base this on an up-to-date un­der­stand­ing of our mem­bers’ and fel­lows’ views.”

The RCP said it will adopt a neu­tral po­si­tion un­til two-thirds of re­spon­dents say that it should be in favour or op­posed to a change in the law.

It said this means it will nei­ther sup­port or op­pose a change in the law in dis­cus­sions with gov­ern­ment and oth­ers.

As­sisted dy­ing is il­le­gal in UK, with doc­tors fac­ing a jail term of up to 14 years un­der the Sui­cide Act 1961.

There is no spe­cific pro­hi­bi­tion of as­sist­ing a sui­cide in Scot­tish law, but any­one do­ing so could be charged with mur­der or cul­pa­ble homi­cide, the RCP said.

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