Pro-life and religious organizations condemned the BBC for broadcasting a controversial documentary on a man's assisted suicide Monday evening.
The program, called Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die has caused a stir among critics who are saying the program romanticized assisted suicide. Terry Pratchett is a novelist who is also well known to be a strong activist for the legalization of assisted suicide.
I rather thought that we had moved on from the days when people gathered in crowds to watch other people die, said Nola Leach, CEo of CARE. That the BBC should facilitate this is deeply disturbing. One wonders whether the BBC has any interest in treating this subject impartially.
This is compounded by the fact that, rather than fronting tonight's program with someone neutral, the task has been given to a well-known assisted suicide campaigner.
In the program, Pratchett accompanies a 71-year-old man and his wife from Britain to Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal.
Smedley, a millionaire hotel owner, gave BBC permission to film his final dying moments. After drinking poison, he said to the camera That was fairly innocuous.
But the next scenes show Smedley gasping for breath and pleading for water.
The former Bishop of Rochester in England, Michael Nazir-Ali rebuked the BBC saying: Its own guidelines state that the portrayal of suicide has the potential to make this appear possible, and even appropriate, to the vulnerable.
He continued, As a public service broadcaster the BBC has an obligation to provide a balanced presentation of the moral issues of the day, especially when legality is also at stake. So far, there has been very little evidence of such balance in this matter.
Dr. Peter Sanders of Care Not Killing charity has called on British authorities to review how the broadcast company covers euthanasia and assisted suicide, warning of a significant risk that copycat suicides would follow the example shown in the program.
This was a grossly misleading and unbalanced piece of dangerous propaganda that could lead to an increase in suicides, Sanders said.
BBC's executive Emma Swain defended the program, saying The film does show some other perspectives, but it is not critical that every film we make is completely impartial and balanced. It is across our output that we need to provide [balance].