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Potential harms ‘outweigh benefits’ of assisted suicide law – RCPI group

An RCPI working group examining assisted suicide concluded that the potential harms associated with introducing legislation would “outweigh the arguments in favour”.

In 2017, the RCPI established a working group comprising representatives from a range of specialties who reviewed the positions of medical professional bodies in Ireland and worldwide.

“It also considered legislation to allow assisted suicide in countries including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, and states within the US. The group also considered the arguments on either side of this debate and concerns expressed by physicians in jurisdictions where assisted suicide had been introduced,” an RCPI spokesperson told the Medical Independent

“Within the discourse around assisted suicide there are a number of arguments in support of and against assisted suicide and euthanasia,” added the spokesperson. “It was the opinion of this group that the potential harms outweigh the arguments in favour of legislation for assisted suicide.”

The spokesperson said that “we will continue to gauge opinions of our members on the subject”.

When contacted in July, the ICGP stated it “has no immediate plans to gauge members’ opinions on assisted dying at this time”.

The RCSI also said it “currently has no plans for consultations relating to euthanasia”.

This year, the Royal College of Physicians, UK, adopted a neutral position to any potential law-change on assisted dying following consultation with members and fellows. It defined assisted dying as the supply by a doctor of a lethal dose of drugs to a terminally ill patient, who met certain legal criteria and who may use the drugs to end their own life. In June, the Royal College of General Practitioners announced it would consult members on assisted dying.

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