Four British doctors are attempting to take their professional body to the High Court over an assisted suicide survey they believe is illegal.
The doctors, two of whom are Catholic, say they believe the Royal College of Physicians has acted “unfairly and unlawfully” by setting a super majority of 60% of votes to retain the college’s existing opposition to assisted suicide.
The college has said it will adopt a policy of neutrality if the 60% threshold is not met. But the four doctors said in a statement – sent by email – that the threshold would be impossible to meet because there were three questions in the survey instead of two.
The last survey on assisted suicide that was conducted by the college – carried out in 2014 using two questions – found that 58% of members opposed the practice. The four doctors applied for a judicial review last week on the grounds of “irrationality” and a “breach of legitimate expectation” in the way the poll had been conducted.
One of the four, Dr David Randall, a London-based renal medicine specialist, said: “The public has a right to know what doctors think about this important issue.
“Going neutral would silence the voice of the majority of doctors who oppose the legalisation of assisted suicide,” he said, adding that neutrality would provide tacit support to a campaign to change the law, which fewer than a third of RCP members supported in the most recent poll on this issue.