Doctors’ poll reveals continued opposition to assisted suicide

A controversial poll by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) of its UK members has revealed continued opposition to assisted suicide.

The RCP asked doctors if they think the College should support or oppose legalisation, or whether it should be neutral.

Despite the RCP opting before the poll to move to a neutral position, neutrality was the option least favoured by members.

‘Inferred support’

Only 25 per cent support a neutral position, while 43.4 per cent say it should continue its long-standing opposition.

The RCP came under fire in January when it revealed it would become neutral unless a supra-majority of 60 per cent either oppose or support a change.

The poll now officially confirms the move to neutrality – a stance the RCP says reflects a “range of views” among doctors. But others say that dropping opposition is “inferred support” for legalisation.


It also asked doctors if they would personally assist a patient to kill themselves. 55 per cent said no, and less than a quarter said they would.

The decision to require a supra-majority and change position prior to consulting members is being challenged by four doctors in the High Court.

They say they are “disappointed but not surprised” by the RCP’s move, adding: “The profession has not moved on this issue, so neither should the College”.

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