UK Premier Opposes Assisted Death While Euthanasia Footage Is To Be Screened By Private Channel

by Gopalan on  December 11, 2008 at 11:04 AM General Health News
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 UK Premier Opposes Assisted Death While Euthanasia Footage Is To Be Screened By Private Channel
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared his stout opposition to assisted death while the Sky TV is planning to screen footage of an assisted death in Switzerland.

The popular channel is to broadcast the last moments of Craig Ewert, 59, a father-of-two from Harrogate, as he is helped to take his life at the Dignitas euthanasia clinic.

At Prime Minister's Question Time, Mr Brown made clear his own opposition to assisted suicide, saying: "I believe that it is necessary to ensure that there is never a case in this country where a sick or elderly person feels under pressure to agree to an assisted death or somehow feels it is the expected thing to do.

"That is why I have always opposed legislation for assisted deaths.'"

The Prime Minister was responding to a question from Mr Ewert's MP Phil Willis (Harrogate and Knaresborough) who asked whether he thought the broadcast was "in the public interest or is it simply distasteful voyeurism?"

The Prime Minister went on: "I think it is very important that these issues are dealt with sensitively and without sensationalism and I hope broadcasters remember that they have a wider responsibility to the general public.

"Of course, it will be a matter for the television watchdogs when the broadcast is shown."

Earlier, at a regular Westminster briefing, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman suggested that Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, would now consider whether the contents of the documentary abided by the Broadcasting Code.

He said: "In relation to whether or not this should be broadcast, clearly there is the broadcasting code which has clear rules about the portrayal of suicide. It would be for Ofcom to decide whether or not the code is being adhered to.''

Ofcom confirmed that it had already received a number of complaints about the documentary, but a spokesman said that it could not take action ahead of transmission, Telegraph reported.

The Broadcasting Code states: "Methods of suicide and self-harm must not be included in programmes except where they are editorially justified and are also justified by the context."

Barbara Gibbon, Head of Sky Real Lives, defended the broadcast, saying: "The question of a person's right to die at a time of their choosing is an issue that arouses strong views on both sides.

"Recent events in the UK have highlighted the real dilemmas that some people are confronting and have put the subject of assisted suicide into the public arena as never before.

"As a broadcaster, we believe that there is a role for television to inform public debate about even the most challenging subjects."

Source: Medindia

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