A landmark survey of doctors has found half would like to see assisted dying made legal in Britain.
The first-ever poll of members of the British Medical Association, which has officially opposed assisted dying since 2006, revealed 50% support a law change with just 39% opposed and 11% undecided.
More than 10,000 of 29,000 doctors polled even said they would actively participate if the law allowed them to prescribe lethal drugs for eligible patients to self-administer.
Eligibility for an assisted death was suggested as adults with a terminal illness or with a serious physical illness causing intolerable suffering.
Some 40% said the BMA should back a law change, 21% said it should take a neutral position and just 33% thought it should oppose it. The BMA is expected to review its stance next year.
Dr Jacky Davis, chair of Healthcare Pro-fessionals for Assisted Dying, said some patients need “choice and control at the end of life”, adding: “For too long the medical establishment has opposed assisted dying without listening to the opinions of the profession.”
Humanists UK’s chief executive Andrew Copson hoped it would be a “turning point”.
Ireland this week came a step closer to legalising assisted dying after a new bill passed a legislative hurdle and New Zealand will hold a referendum on it this month.
Sarah Wootton, chief exec of Dignity in Dying, added: “It is time for the UK to change the law.”