An association of specialists in the care of the elderly has expressed staunch opposition to assisted suicide.
The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) called on lawmakers to consider the repercussions of legislating for assisted suicide, both for individuals and wider society.
The warning comes ahead of a debate on Labour MP Rob Marris’ assisted suicide Bill in the House of Commons in September.
A statement on the BGS website reads: “The BGS is concerned with protecting the interests of vulnerable older and disabled people who already feel pressure to give up their lives to reduce the burden they feel they cause to others.”
It continues, “crossing the boundary between acknowledging that death is inevitable and taking active steps to assist the patient to die changes fundamentally the role of the physician, changes the doctor-patient relationship and changes the role of medicine in society”.
The statement concludes: “The prohibition on intentional killing is the cornerstone of society and it is worth preserving the notion that all lives are precious”.
The BGS has over 2,750 members worldwide and is made up of doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and scientists.
Last month Rob Marris MP brought forward his Bill and said he wants to see a ‘compassionate’ assisted suicide law passed by Parliament.
Downing Street made clear that the Bill would not be given Government support, with Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman saying he was “concerned that legislation may push people into things they do not actually want for themselves”.
Several Peers have also spoken out against legalising assisted suicide including palliative care expert Baroness Finlay, who warned that assisted suicide could be extended beyond the terminally ill.
She said that the current law, “rests on the principle that we do not involve ourselves in deliberately bringing about the deaths of other people”.