Friday, June 17, 2011
A BBC special by the renowned British author Terry Pratchett has caused a stir in the UK. Shown Monday night, "Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die," included footage of a patient ingesting lethal medication and dying in a Dignitas clinic in Switzerland, where aid in dying is legal. Nearly 900 viewers contacted BBC to complain. The show caused a furor that reached the state level; several peers are accusing the station of taking a side in the aid in dying debate, one of the more contentious issues in Britain at the moment. Aid in dying is not legal in the UK. Terry Pratchett, diagnosed with Alzheimer's, is a vocal advocate for the right to die.
Last year Kier Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, ruled that it was legal to assist a patient in their death, a decision that was the result of a court case brought by multiple sclerosis sufferer, Debbie Purdy, in 2009. Purdy asked the courts to allow her partner Omar Puente to assist her travel to Switzerland when she decided to end her life -- without risking court action when he returned.