Assisted suicide

Policy topic

The Westminster and Scottish Parliaments have recently discussed the issue of assisted suicide or assisted dying. Individual politicians have proposed legislation which, within a specific framework and set of safeguards, seeks to legalise assisting a person with a terminal condition to terminate their life at a time of their choosing, rather than waiting for nature to take its course.

These highly contentious bills have failed in both legislatures, but whatever the outcome of future bills, the RPS has stated its neutral stance.  It is neither for or against the principle enshrined within the bills but has been involved in the debate around this issue to ensure that the views of pharmacists are taken into account and that the content of the bills reflects pharmacy practice.

RPS Policy and Public Affairs staff have worked with the Bill Team in England and given evidence to the Health and Sport Committee in the Scottish Parliament. In both instances the RPS has stated that any legislation must stipulate explicit legal protection for pharmacists, and that there must be a conscience clause, so that pharmacists can decline to dispense for an assisted suicide procedure on moral, ethical, or religious grounds.

Policy documents

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