BBC documentary: “Choosing to die” or choosing death?

Monday night saw the broadcasting of the BBC’s much-debated documentary, Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die.

Whatever your thoughts on the secondary debate, surrounding the suitability of such a piece, or whether it can be called “public service broadcasting”, the programme raised questions, both legal and moral.

Debating these fundamental questions, of the value of life and the purpose of suffering, is of course commendable, but that is not what this broadcast was. The people with opposing views – and there were precious few of them – including Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien, were presented as voicing an opinion or belief which cannot be imposed on anyone.

Earlier this week Liz Carr, a disabled woman, writing in The Guardian, pointed out that in this case, balanced media coverage was not only right and necessary but, “A matter of life and death.”

There are also many people who admit that they have thought seriously about ending their own lives due to accident or illness, but have now changed their minds, and this was another non-existent point of view, according to the programme.

There is also the wider question, as Philip Robson points out in his CTS booklet, Euthanasia from a Catholic perspective:

“If we allow that some human lives lack value then a truly enormous concession has been made. It would not be surprising if pressure were placed, in the future, on the old and infirm to offer themselves for euthanasia as if it were somehow the duty of those who are not productive to stop using up essential resources. The only appropriate standpoint is that of insistence on the value and inviolability of every human life and a commitment unconditionally to promote, in all its aspects, the Gospel of Life.”

Monday night’s broadcast was a page straight out of the BBC gospel of death, one they have been shouting from the rooftops for some time now, and one which will only lead to their own destruction.

C.S. Lewis put it well in The Horse and His Boy: when Aravis is about to end her life in despair, her faithful mare speaks out:

“Do not by any means destroy yourself, for while you live, you may yet have good fortune, but all the dead are dead alike.”

That death is not just the end of life but an increasingly visible and audible part of contemporary culture which needs to be answered.

Euthanasia from a Catholic perspective is available from CTS priced £1.95

Of related interest:

DO633 Evangelium Vitae – From its very title, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope John Paul II showed that he wished to give the protection of life, from conception to its natural end, a highly positive character and great new spiritual thrust.
Healing Thoughts on the Trials of Sickness – These reflections on sickness and the state of those who are sick demonstrate Benedict XVI’s great attentiveness to the meaning and extent of human suffering.
PA4 Giving Meaning to Suffering – In one way or another suffering and death are inevitable realities that we encounter in the course of our existence. Christ gave a meaning to all human suffering by going through it himself, and transforming its consequences.
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2 comments on “BBC documentary: “Choosing to die” or choosing death?

  1. Dear sir
    Yes many people do change there minds and the program and dignitas allow for this
    “Are you sure?” was asked about three times do you remember the white folders “90% never call again ” so yes it was mentioned!

    The Man (peter) did not “offer themselves for euthanasia as if it were somehow the duty of those who are not productive to stop using up essential resource”s. He simply didn’t want to die a long death by deitration and starvation which is the current medical practice or indeed slowly chock to death which his condition condemns him too.

    I really cant marry the Christian ethic of valueing life without also valuing a persons quality of death.

    • Dear Sir,

      The question of not being productive was presented in the article as somewhere we could end up, it did not mean that is the case at the moment. While considering the individual and their suffering, the Church must also give a warning cry that there are serious dangers for society at large in making certain things legally, and thereby in the eyes of many, morally acceptable.


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