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Ethics briefing
  1. Charlotte Wilson1,
  2. Ruth Campbell2,
  3. Veronica English2,
  4. Rebecca Mussell2,
  5. Julian C Sheather2,
  6. Sophie Brannan2
  1. 1 Medical Ethics and Human Rights, British Medical Association, London, UK
  2. 2 Medical Ethics, British Medical Association, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Charlotte Wilson, Medical Ethics and Human Rights, British Medical Association, London WC1H 9JP, UK; cwilson{at}

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Publication of British Medical Association (BMA) resource ‘How will abortion be regulated in the United Kingdom if the criminal sanctions for abortion are removed’

In 2017, the BMA passed policy supporting the decriminalisation of abortion throughout the UK.1 The policy states that abortion should be regulated in the same way as other medical treatments and that abortion should be decriminalised in respect of health professionals administering abortions within the context of their clinical practice and women procuring or administering the means of their own abortion.

The BMA has been clear that decriminalisation does not mean deregulation. Limits can still be set, subject to professional or regulatory, rather than criminal sanctions. The BMA has recently published a resource that sets out the legislation, regulations, and professional guidelines that will continue to regulate abortion in the UK in the event that abortion is decriminalised. It is available at:

BMA to poll members on assisted dying

Following a debate at its Annual Representatives Meeting (ARM) in June, the BMA has voted to poll its members to ascertain views on whether the association should adopt a neutral position on assisted dying. This is the first time that the organisation will carry out such a poll.

The organisation currently opposes assisted dying in all its forms, policy that was passed at the 2006 ARM and reaffirmed in 2016.2 This policy will stand while the poll is being conducted and until a decision is made to the contrary. Information obtained from the poll will inform future debate on the BMA’s policy.

The decision of the BMA comes shortly after an announcement that the Royal College of General Practitioners will poll its members later this year3 and a few months after the Royal College of Physicians announced the results of a survey of members’ views on this issue.4

Assisted dying in the USA

Maine has become the latest state to legalise assisted suicide in the USA, when its governor, Janet Mills, signed the Dignity in Dying Act …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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