Marlowe's Shade

Friday, July 15, 2005

More on BMA Euthanasia Decision

Yesterday accusations were raised that the BMA's recent vote not to oppose euthanasia was engineered by political maneuvering:

A LANDMARK vote by doctors to abandon their opposition to euthanasia was fixed, a Mersey MP claimed yesterday.

Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby, condemned the British Medical Association for the late staging of the vote, after nearly half the delegates had left its annual conference.

The MP also attacked the failure to vote on a separate motion that would have maintained the BMA's resistance to terminally-ill patients being helped to die.

And she warned the move was a big boost to euthanasia supporters, who include an independent peer preparing to reintroduce his own Bill to legalise it.

Ms Curtis-Thomas claimed: "The vote was deliberately held at the end of the conference because many doctors opposed to euthanasia had to leave.

"The only other explanation is that the BMA did not believe the vote would be of interest and I don't think many people would believe that. This is definitely a bit murky."

But the claim was ridiculed by the BMA, which insisted the late timing was simply a result of the huge pressure to debate as many as possible of a suggested 700 motions.

A spokeswoman said: "The vote was not fixed. We had a fair, honest and open debate."

The BMA agreed that the criminal law in relation to assisted dying was "primarily a matter for society and for parliament".

Therefore, the motion stated: "The BMA should not oppose legislation which alters the criminal law, but should press for robust safeguards both for patients and for doctors who not wish to be involved in such procedures."

It came ahead of the reintroduction of Lord Joffe's Bill to allow terminally-ill people to kill themselves, after it ran out of time before May's general election.

Meanwhile the BMA decision has initiated a domino effect, and the New Zealand Medical Association is considering a similar change in policy:

The New Zealand Medical Association will re-examine its position on euthanasia because its British counterpart has taken a more neutral stance on the issue.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has dropped its policy of automatic opposition to euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide and will now let parliament determine the issue.

New Zealand Medical Association Chairman Ross Boswell says the BMA is effectively its parent association, so the NZMA will now re-examine its position.

He says the BMA has decided it is neither opposed to nor in favour of euthanasia.

Boswell says that position challenges the World Medical Association, which is still ethically opposed to doctors being involved in euthanasia.

Euthanasia campaigners say it would be a significant step if the New Zealand Medical Association went ahead with a review of euthanasia policy. They say a review of the issue is not only necessary but would recognise that the current NZMA policy is outdated.

Lesley Martin from Dignity New Zealand says the NZMA should respond to the fact that doctors admit to carrying out euthanasia in this country.

But the pro-life group, Family Life International says changing the NZMA stance on euthanasia would mark a frightening moment in New Zealand medical history.
papijoe 6:55 AM