Skip to content

Archive site notice

You are viewing an archived copy of Christian Concern's website. Some features are disabled and pages may not display properly.

To view our current site, please visit

Leaked BMA guidance gives medics permission to play God

Printer-friendly version

The British Medical Association's recently published guidelines that allow doctors to end the lives of patients suffering from dementia and other degenerative diseases - if they are unable to feed themselves. Families’ opinions will not have as much power as they used to, giving doctors the final call. Regan King comments.

The BMA is Britain’s leading trade union for doctors and health professionals. With a membership of around 160,000 medical professionals, it is inarguable that the BMA holds powerful influence in health and medical oriented legislation.

The BMA logo is symbolic of its purpose: a serpent wrapped around a pole - commonly referred to as ‘The Rod of Asclepius’. The serpent-entwined rod was said by the pagan Greeks to be wielded by the Greek god Asclepius who was deemed responsible for healing and medicine. The original Hippocratic Oath – which swears to protect and seek to preserve patients’ lives begins with an invocation of the same mythological power.

The concept of the serpent-entwined rod predates Asclepius however. In the Bible book of Numbers, it is this same image that God instructed Moses to make when the wilderness wandering Hebrews were dying from a rebellion caused serpent infestation. All who were bitten by a serpent were instructed to look at the brass made serpent on a rod and they would find healing and life. Many years later, 2 Kings 18 records how the Israelites had eventually taken to worshipping the image referred to derogatorily as ‘Nehushtan’, leading King Hezekiah to destroy the artefact. The importance of the symbol remained, however, as Jesus references the same in John 3.14-15.

“‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (ESV).

Preservation. Protection. Trust. Hope. Help. Healing. Life. All words that are associated with the insignia the BMA bears.

If only the BMA itself could be associated with the same words.

Disturbing leaked guidance distributed to BMA members, says medical professionals should be allowed to remove tubes giving food and water to those who cannot feed themselves. Doctors would be enabled to decide to end the lives of patients with severe dementia or other degenerative diseases by effectively starving and dehydrating them. The BMA document indicates the new rules should cover:

“…those patients who have a recognised degenerative condition – such as advanced dementia, Parkinson's or Huntington's disease – that is likely to result in the patient being unable to take sufficient nutrition orally.”

The guidelines could potentially include stroke victims.

The BMA’s justification for this?

“Due to the degenerative nature of their condition, these patients are on an expected downward trajectory and will inevitably die, usually as a result of their underlying condition, although perhaps not imminently and could, potentially, go on living for many years.”

In short, if someone is sick and can’t care for himself, he risks being sped on to his death because ‘he was going to die anyway.’

Dr Peter Saunders (Christian Medical Fellowship) is right when referring to the BMA guidelines as ‘a recipe for euthanasia by stealth’. It is also understandable why one disabled lady refers to the guidance as ‘the most chilling thing I’ve ever heard.’ Its actions stand in stark contrast to the Hippocratic Oath once taken so seriously by medical professionals.

The oath promises:

“I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.”

The BMA abandons the latter part of the statement with the attitude of “what’s the use? He’s going to die soon anyway”.

The Oath asserts:

“I must not play God.”

The BMA, not even acknowledging there is a God, wants to take life into their own hands and have power to force its end.

The Oath vows:

“I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.”

The BMA is fine with those of sound mind and body. It’s the infirm who are the problem. If you can’t take care of yourself, feed yourself, or take your own medication the BMA suggests it is not responsible or obligated to do anything more than remove your feeding tubes and speed you on to an end much earlier than would have occurred. Life is cheap.

The Hebrews looked to the serpent-entwined rod provided by God for healing and help – and received it. Should the BMA have its way, many people will do the normal thing and look for medical help when falling ill. They will entrust themselves to physicians operating under that same trusted brand of healing – the serpent-entwined rod. They will hope that the physicians can care for and help them as best they possibly can.

But rather than finding themselves cared for and given their best chance at life, many will find the BMA’s serpent not of the kind that heals but of the very sort that kills. By then it will be too late.