Assisted dying

There is a moving and well-reasoned article in the British Medical Journal in favour of a change in the law to enable assisted dying with appropriate safeguards; see  McClelland, L. 2012;345:e6201.


Dr McClelland should be congratulated for her article and many doctors will empathise with her narrative. I am confident it will add to the debate with society that is urgently needed.


A change in the law to enable a person to choose assisted dying would respect the autonomy of that person and be consistent with the ethical principle of beneficence. I hope each country in the United Kingdom will change the law to enable assisted dying to be an option at the end of life.  


Some medical professionals have genuine ethical principles against assisted dying and I respect their views while disagreeing with them. Unfortunately there are other medical professionals who oppose assisted dying because it would threaten their power and status and I do not respect them.


Disclosure of interest:

I am a member of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying

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About Iain Robbe

I am a medical practitioner (MB, BS, 1980; MRCS, LRCP, 1980) registered with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I have reactivated my licence to practise and I am providing telephone support to vulnerable elderly to assist them during the pandemic. I remain active as a Clinical Medical Educationist participating in a number of projects with the universities of St Mary’s and Dalhousie in Nova Scotia and Mount Allison in New Brunswick, inter alia, and separately with three of the veterinary schools in the UK. My focus is on teaching and research in professionalism, ethics, and communications, and particularly the influences of vernacular architecture on the creation of positive learning experiences in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. I have the degree of Master in Public Health from the University of London (1985) and the degree of Master in Medical Education with distinction from the University of Wales (2001). The guiding principles in my practices are based on andragogy and humanism, and the prime ethical principle of autonomy for the individual and in population health.

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