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Ethics briefing
  1. Ruth Campbell1,
  2. Sophie Brannan1,
  3. Veronica English1,
  4. Rebecca Mussell1,
  5. Julian C Sheather2,
  6. Olivia Lines1
  1. 1 Medical Ethics, British Medical Association, London, UK
  2. 2 Medical Ethics, BMA, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ruth Campbell, Medical Ethics, British Medical Association, London WC1H 9JP, UK; rcampbell{at}

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BMA to survey members on physician-assisted dying

In February 2020, the British Medical Association (BMA) will be surveying members for their views on what the BMA’s position on physician-assisted dying should be. The BMA is currently opposed to physician-assisted dying in all its forms, a position that was agreed in 2006 at the annual representative meeting (ARM), the Association’s policy-making conference.1

As previously reported in Ethics briefing,2 the decision to survey members follows a motion passed at last year’s ARM which called on the BMA to “carry out a poll of members to ascertain their views on whether the BMA should adopt a neutral position with respect to a change in the law on assisted dying”.

The results from the survey will not determine BMA policy. Rather, the results be published ahead of this year’s ARM and provided to those attending to inform a debate and discussion on the BMA’s policy position.

More information about the survey, including a briefing pack of useful information, and information for BMA members on how to participate can be found online at

High Court rejects Judicial reviews on assisted suicide

The High Court has refused permission for two separate challenges to the law on assisted suicide in the UK to proceed to a full hearing.

In the first case, Phil Newby, who has motor neuron disease, applied for judicial review of the law on assisted suicide and asked for the court to carry out a detailed examination of what he termed “legislative facts” – that is, an examination of the existing evidence on the “costs, risks and benefits” of regulating assisted suicide – including a cross-examination of relevant expert witnesses.1

Handing down the judgement, Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice May, held that assisted dying …

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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.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

  • R (on the application of Philippe George Newby) v The Secretary of State for Justice [2019] EWHC 3118 (Admin). [40]

  • R (on the application of Philippe George Newby) v The Secretary of State for Justice [2019] EWHC 3118 (Admin).

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