Impact on the medical profession and doctor-patient relationships

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The doctor–patient relationship is one founded primarily on trust and opponents to a change in the law argue that by taking on the additional role of assisted dying, trust could be lost and the doctor–patient relationship damaged. The majority of medical practitioners in the UK currently oppose the legalisation of assisted dying and the British Medical Association remains ‘opposed to doctors taking a role in any form of assisted dying’. In this regard, it is important that doctors with a conscientious objection to assisted dying should be exempt from taking part.

In what ways might the legalisation of some form of assisted dying affect the integrity of the medical profession? One issue is the practicality of enacting the law if a majority of doctors conscientiously object to assisting their patients to die. The Association for Palliative Medicine, for example, have voiced concerns that legislation could cause a polarisation in the medical profession a

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