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Dignity in Dying welcomes documentary Choosing to Die as an opportunity to debate assisted dying

‘Censoring the debate will do nothing to help those suffering unbearably and against their wishes at the end of life’

At 9pm on Monday (13 June), BBC2 will screen the documentary Choosing to Die presented by the author Sir Terry Pratchett. The programme will show the last moments and death of Peter, who was terminally ill with Motor Neurone Disease, at Dignitas in Switzerland. Following the decision to broadcast the programme, Dr Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship and Campaign Director of Care not Killing, has accused the BBC of bias towards the assisted dying campaign.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying said:

“We need to have a sensible debate on assisted dying, and I have no doubt that this documentary will deal with the issues sensitively. It is intended to inform rather than entertain, and I welcome the opportunity it will provide to allow people to make up their own minds about assisted dying.

“The BBC frequently offers unchallenged air time to opponents of a change in the law, and it is quite right, given that this is one of the most important social issues of our time, that the BBC covers the issue as a whole in depth. Monday’s documentary will be an important contribution to the debate and I have no doubt that opponents to change will have plenty of opportunities to continue to make their views known in the media.

“Censoring the debate will do nothing to help those suffering unbearably and against their wishes at the end of life. Not only are people travelling abroad to die, but there are also those who are ending their lives at home, behind closed doors, or with the help of doctors and loved ones who are helping illegally. Much better would be an assisted dying law with upfront safeguards, which would investigate a request to die when the person is still alive and alternative options can be set out. This would better protect potentially vulnerable people and provide choice at the end of life for those suffering unbearably. Furthermore it would allow people to die at home surrounded by their loved ones.

“A small and vocal minority continue to campaign against a change in the law to allow compassionate assistance to die to those who want help to die at the end of their lives. Their views should be heard, but they should not be allowed to shut down this important debate”.


Notes to editor:

About Dignity in Dying:

  • Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
  • Dignity in Dying has over 25,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
  • The British Social Attitudes Survey 2010 found that 92% of non-religious and 71% of religious people support assisted dying. This relates to overall support of 82%.

Media Contacts:

For all Dignity in Dying media enquiries, please contact Jo Cartwright on 020 7479 7737 / 07725433025 or at