Three out of Four Doctors Are against the Euthanasia Bill

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES CHAPMAN

LEADING doctors last night condemned the controversial plans to allow assisted suicides.

They joined the growing campaign against the bill that would relax the law on euthanasia.

The Royal College of Physicians poll showed that 73 per cent of its members are against any change in the law to allow physician assisted suicide or euthanasia.

Peers have been told that as many as 15,000 people a year could kill themselves in assisted suicides if Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, a private member's measure, becomes law.

Anglican and Roman Catholic leaders are warning of 'serious consequences' if Britain moves towards euthanasia.

The legislation, due to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday, would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to 'terminally-ill' patients.

But MPs and medical experts are warning fear of becoming a burden on their families and carers would push many seriously-ill patients towards ending their lives.

Yesterday it emerged that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will be one of the 81 speakers who will take part in the debate.

He will say the legislation would fatally undermine the trust between patients and doctors. Lord Joffe, a crossandbencher, argues that tens of thousands of extremely ill patients are already being illegally helped to die by their doctors every year.

He says his Bill would limit assisted suicide to terminally ill patients.

Doctors would be able to help patients to die only if they were physically unable to assist themselves.

The legislation also requires patients to discuss alternatives in palliative care - the treatment given to the terminally ill - before they request assisted suicide.

But opponents welcomed the finding that most doctors are opposed to a change in the law.

Crossbench peer Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, professor of Palliative Medicine in Cardiff a member of a Lords committee considering the Bill, said: 'This poll shows conclusively that doctors who are deeply involved in caring for dying patients are firmly opposed to this Bill.

'Specialists in palliative medicine, those closest to patients who are dying are 95 per cent opposed. …