The Channel 4 euthanasia debate 17th-23rd January

A series of prime-time mini programmes on euthanasia

4thought.tv is a mini-series by Channel 4 Television, a platform both for scepticism and devout religious belief. It aims to be a space for sharing your thoughts on beliefs and ethics. This coming week highlights euthanasia and openly invites your comments.

The religious right are already organised: the Independent Catholic News is urging people to respond online and the Church of Scotland is using its blog and facebook. The pro-choice lobby represents 80% of the population, yet when it comes to expressing our thoughts we are way behind.

This is your chance to get involved. If you don’t it will be Holyrood all over again* – thousands of protests registered from the anti-euthanasia lobby and a mere few stray letters representing the majority.

It will take second to go online and respond. The programmes feature top speakers and only last minutes. Interested? Here’s the schedule for you diaries:

4thought.tv asks: should euthanasia be legalised?

Lesley Close – sister of an assisted suicide
Monday 17 January, 7.55PM on Channel 4
Lesley Close’s brother John had motor neurone disease. In 2003 Lesley accompanied him to a suicide clinic in Switzerland where she witnessed his ‘dignified and amazing’ death.

Martin Amis – luminary of the literary world
Tuesday 18 January, 7.55PM on Channel 4
Author Martin Amis believes that euthanasia is an evolutionary inevitability. Martin caused controversy by putting forward the idea of suicide booths on street corners and thinks that future generations will look back at how we have abandoned people to their longevity as ‘barbaric’.

Motor neurone disease makes my life richer
Thursday 20 January, 7.55PM on Channel 4
Michael Wenham was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He believes his life is now richer than it was before his illness and that euthanasia is a selfish act that fails to take account of the feelings of those who are left behind.

A right-to-die activist speaks out
Friday 21 January, 7.25PM on Channel 4
Dr Michael Irwin believes that it is a doctor’s duty to ease a patient’s suffering and wants to see a change in the law that would allow doctor-assisted suicide for those who are terminally ill. He has personally accompanied patients to the Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland to help them end their lives.

A terminally ill doctor speaks out
Saturday 22 January, 6.50PM on Channel 4

Dr Ann McPherson has terminal cancer. Ann hopes that, when the time comes, she will be able to have the option of an assisted death in Britain.

A Sunday opponent hopes to round things off
Sunday 23 January, 7.55PM on Channel 4
Kevin Fitzpatrick believes that legalising euthanasia in Britain would be a terrible mistake and that many more disabled people would die as a result. Kevin believes that we should put our energies into improving palliative care services rather than trying to make it easier for people to hasten their deaths.

Says Alaistair Thompson, We have tried our hardest to fairly represent both sides of the debate, and show both people who believe assisted suicides should be legalised to limit the suffering of terminal illnesses, and people who don’t for religious and potential misuse reasons. The 90 second films will be airing after the news every evening on Channel 4 (around 7:55pm). Viewers can then share their own thoughts and feelings about euthanasia, respond to individual films and reply to other viewer comments on our website http://www.4thought.tv

Readers abroad please note: the programmes go online after the broadcast so you too can watch and comment.


4thought.tv – programme listings, online viewing, add your COMMENT
Church of Scotland end-of-life blog – featuring 4thought.tv
Independent Catholic News – take part in euthanasia debate
Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (founded by Dr Ann McPherson CBE)
Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (founded by Dr Michael Irwin)
Christian Concern (featuring Michael Wenham)
Dignitas and Suicide ‘Tourism’ (BBC transcript featuring Lesley Close)
Dying words (BBC video archive with John & Lesley Close)
No charges against ‘Dr Death’ (Dr Michael Irwin, ITV video footage)
Martin Amis on euthanasia (Guardian book club interview video)
*Huge success of postcard campaign – opponents defeat Holyrood End-of-Life bill

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2 Responses to The Channel 4 euthanasia debate 17th-23rd January

  1. joan gaskell says:

    Euthanasia/Dr assisted death should be a personal decision. I don’t impose my opinion on others and I don’t expect others to impose theirs on me. Both professionally as a nurse on a cancer ward and personally, my Father, Mother and Husband had horrible deaths from cancer.
    I have a “living will” and hope a Doctor, who believes she/he is helping her/his patient, be legally allowed to die when they choose.
    Joan Gaskell. Brighton.

  2. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the tv debate. This blog achieved the highest number of hits since its inception!

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