Should Assisted Suicide Be Broadcast Live on TV?

The subject of assisted suicide periodically arises in the Great Britain.  And when it does, the debate is as fierce as it has been in the United States.

This time around, controversy has been raging for weeks after Sky Television decided to air the actual death of a man from Harrowgate, North Yorkshire, as he prepared to die at a suicide clinic called Dignitas in Switzerland. Dignitas has seen several British citizens use its services to end painful and debilitating lives, but this was the first time one of their procedures was actually broadcast on British television.

Sky (Rupert Murdoch's news outlet in Britain) produced a rather moving piece where the sufferer himself, Craig Ewert, makes the case for his ability to take his own life to save himself suffering. He even, between gasps of oxygen, manages to pose some interesting questions to the Christian opponents of the procedure.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made clear his opposition to assisted suicide and any legislation that would make it easier. This was prompted by a query during Prime Minister's Question Time in the House of Commons, where the MP who represents Craig Ewert's district expressed objection to the broadcast. Brown replied to the query.

I believe that it is necessary to ensure that there is never a case in this country where a sick or elderly person feels under pressure to agree to an assisted death or somehow feels it is the expected thing to do.

Currently, it is technically illegal to aide or abet a suicide in Britain. This is an ongoing problem for people who are seriously and chronically ill and who wish to end their lives and it is a third-rail for politicians and most do not seem willing to address the ambiguity in the law that was originally passed in the late 1960s.