Marlowe's Shade

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

British Medical Association Debates Euthanasia

From BBC News

Doctors will debate whether the law should be relaxed to allow terminally ill patients the right to die.
Pressure for change has grown since the introduction of a private member's bill in the last parliament calling for the right to die to be allowed.

The British Medical Association will debate a series of motions, including one backing Lord Joffe's bill.

The bill ran out of time when the election was called, but the peer has promised to reintroduce it.

Dr Michael Wilks, chairman of the BMA's ethics committee, said it was right that doctors discussed the issue.

He said they would explore whether there was a difference between assisted suicide, whereby medics provide the means for a patient to kill themselves, and voluntary euthanasia, when a patient is too ill to administer the lethal medication, but consents to someone else doing it.

So far the BMA has held the line on PAS and euthanasia. With Holland and Oregon as case studies, Dr Wilks strategy to encourage debate seems like a good one:

Dr Wilks said: "The BMA has always maintained there is no difference and has remained opposed to a change in the law.

"But there are some suggestions that there are mixed opinions within the profession.

"Talking about it and re-examining the issue is the responsible thing to do."

Here's a disturbing set of figures that has already come out:

In Holland, assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia are responsible for one in 40 deaths.

Whereas, one in 700 deaths in the US state of Oregon are from assisted suicide - voluntary euthanasia is not allowed.

Based on studies that show that only a fraction of PAS/euthanasia deaths in Holland are reported, we can safely assume the Dutch figure is twice as high at least. The Brits would do well to consider how the Dutch experiment has careened down the slippery slope.
papijoe 7:30 AM