Humanists UK calls on RCP members to consider dignity, compassion in assisted dying survey

21 February, 2019

Credit: Jorge Lopez

Humanists UK has called on Royal College of Physicians (RCP) members to consider dignity and compassion for all by voting in favour of assisted dying in the College’s survey which closes on 1 March 2019.

Last month the RCP announced it would survey its fellows and members on whether or not there should be a change in the law to permit assisted dying.

The RCP’s current position is opposed to assisted dying but after the survey, the RCP says it will move to support a change in the law if 60% of respondents say the RCP should be in favour, stay opposed if 60% say they are opposed, and otherwise adopt a neutral position. ‘Neutral’ means the RCP would neither support nor opposes a change in the law.

Humanists UK, which campaigns for assisted dying for the incurably suffering and terminally ill, says it is vital for any RCP member who supports a more compassionate and dignified approach to end of life choices to vote in favour of change.

In the survey, Humanists UK suggests any RCP member who supports the right to die for those who are incurably suffering or terminally ill to respond as follows:

  1. On the RCP’s position on whether there should be a change in the law, to respond in favour
  2. On whether the law should change to permit assisted dying, to respond yes
  3. On whether you personally are prepared to participate in assisted dying, Humanists UK makes no suggestion
  4. On what else you would want to say about this issue, to make clear that you support these changes for both terminally ill and incurably suffering people.

With regard to that last question, Humanists UK has also prepared the following extra supporting information:

Assisted dying should be available for everyone who is of sound mind but is terminally ill or incurably suffering. It is vital that all human beings are able to live their lives while maintaining their dignity, autonomy, and choice, and that is only possible if the law is changed. Dying with dignity in a manner of our choosing should be a fundamental human right.

More than one person a week is now forced to travel abroad to end their lives, but many others cannot afford the journey. A compassionate law should not privilege those with the means to travel, nor limit a peaceful death to just those likely to die within six months. Now, more than ever, we have resources to extend life, but not necessarily cure it. Assisted dying enables us to rebalance our end of life care towards respecting both a person’s autonomy and dignity, whilst ensuring stringent protections are in place to protect the most vulnerable.


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Press Manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078.

To see the RCP’s survey, visit

For more information on Humanists UK’s campaign on assisted dying, visit