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ITV documentary looks at assisted dying


ITV documentary looks at assisted dying

“We’ve got the ability to take people’s suffering away in a clinical way, and it should be my choice.” – Dan Monks who has multiple sclerosis

A Time To Die is a powerful, feature-length documentary that explores the human cost of the current British law on assisted dying, featuring the emotional stories of five people who all want the right to die at a time of their choosing as well as why some feel this is a choice they should never have.

Made by Oscar, Emmy and BAFTA-winning director Jon Blair and BAFTA-winning producer Rachel Cumella, A Time To Die delves deep into assisted dying, aiming to shed fresh light on a highly controversial issue.

Phil Newby, who is dying from motor neurone disease:

“We are managing my way out of this life as best as possible. There might be periods where you flatten out and stay stable for a while, but it is a one way road. Breathing. I can’t breathe lying down anymore. I think the hospital has me a part way through respiratory failure, which isn’t very cheerful to read.”

Over 425 million people around the world now have the right to some form of medically assisted suicide, yet many countries are still asking whether those suffering with terminal illness or incurable conditions should really have that choice, and if they did, what would be the consequences for vulnerable people who could potentially be at risk if the law is changed.

Andy Whiting, husband of Kim Whiting who was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) less than a year ago said:

“The first thing she said was I want to go to Dignitas and I have tried to be completely clear and honest with her and said, okay, but you can say no at any time. And we’ve always got the fall-back of palliative care.”  

Pictured top: Kim and husband Andy Whiting at home. Kim was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy. Middle: Dan Monks who has multiple sclerosis he is applying for an assisted death at Dignitas in Switzerland. Bottom: Phil Newby, who is dying from motor neurone disease.

 Kim Whiting:

“I’m quite sure because there’s no alternative. Because I am fed up with this life. With all the pain. My legs, my calves, my toes. Cause each day I feel bad. Getting worse. And that’s the only way to do it.”

With access to Dignitas in Switzerland, the programme follows the personal stories of individuals and their families in the UK as they prepare to end their lives.

Nearly 650 British citizens have travelled to Switzerland for assisted suicide over the years. But getting there is far from simple, but even so some feel they have no other way to end their suffering while the law in the UK remains as it is. Anyone who assists a suicide risks criminal prosecution with a sentence of up to 14 years in England and Wales. In addition, each year many will take matters into their own hands at home by taking their own lives.

A palliative care specialist explains why she and many of her peers are totally against a change in the law, while a disability rights campaigner speaks of his fears for disabled people, the disadvantaged and minorities who he says will be most at risk if the law is changed.

Baroness Ilora Finlay, Professor of Palliative Medicine and a strong opponent of changing the law:

“My own mother was very strongly in favour of euthanasia and when she was dying and we thought she had six weeks to live she was extremely angry with me that I had opposed it. The hospice thought that she was going to be dead within a few weeks. She died four years later, not four to six weeks later.” 

This programme asks if there is any answer that could satisfy both sides, where life and death are quite literally at stake – or whether the delicate issue of assisted dying will remain unresolved in the UK.

A Time To Die airs tomorrow, Monday, November 13th at 10.45 pm on ITV1, ITVX and at 11.05 pm on STV and the STV Player

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