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New BBC documentary highlights dangers of assisted suicide

16 May 2024
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A new tv documentary, led by comedian, actor and disability activist Liz Carr, has focused on the dangers of introducing assisted suicide legislation for disabled people.

The BBC one production, entitled ‘Better Off Dead’, has been well-received within the UK, receiving a 5-star review in the Guardian, and other favourable reviews from the Times and the Telegraph.

Liz Carr herself received a diagnosis of a rare auto-immune condition at age 7, became a wheelchair user at age 11, and was told as a teenager that she would not live into old age.

Indeed, as a teenager, she actually thought herself that she wanted to die. She says at the beginning of the film, “You’re probably thinking that, looking like me, I’d be campaigning for the choice to ask a doctor to put me out of my misery.”

She had wanted to create the film since the BBC’s programme presentation of the case for Assisted Suicide in 2011, which was led by Terry Pratchett. Subsequently, she wrote to the BBC saying they had a moral obligation to present the opposite point of view.

Carr explains in the film, “if a non-disabled person wants to commit assisted suicide it’s seen as a tragedy”, but “if a disabled person does, it’s a release”.

Within the programme, Carr visits Canada, where assisted suicide was legalised in 2016. One doctor interviewed on the programme, in dystopian fashion, describes prescribing death to patients as “some of the best work I’ve done in years.”

She also meets a disabled man, who had applied for MAID due to living in poverty; after a local TV crew picked up his story, a fundraiser was begun, he was the beneficiary of $60,000, and withdrew his application.

Assisted suicide legislation is currently being considered in the Isle of Man, Jersey and Scotland. Keir Starmer has publicly committed to allowing time for a vote in the next Parliament, should the Labour Party win the General Election in a few months time.

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