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MARCH 2016


1603 image news

BBC documentary about assisted suicide

On 10th February, the BBC showed a documentary, called “Simon’s Choice” about a British man’s journey to end his life at an assisted suicide clinic in Basel, Switzerland, in November 2015. Simon Binner was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in January 2015 and given up to two years to live.

The documentary follows Mr Binner and his family as they come to terms with his illness and decision to end his own life at the age of 57. Christian Concern expressed their worries in the build up to the documentary being aired, suggesting that it was the BBC “cheerleading” assisted dying,@ particularly as, according to Christian Concern, Mr Binner had produced the program with the British Humanist Association, with the clear aim “of applying pressure in the public space to push for the legalisation of assisted suicide.”

Christian Concern’s Chief Executive, Andrea Williams, commented, “As a broadcaster that claims to be neutral, the BBC should be giving more than token representation to those on the side of life. Instead, it is promoting a liberal view of assisted suicide under the guise of compassion.”

Simon’s decision was never just about an illness

Mr Binner’s wife, Debbie, wrote an article for the Telegraph, outlining her experience of being the partner left behind and how conflicted it made her feel.@ Whilst her husband’s death was peaceful, she describes everything else as “traumatic” – the paperwork, legal worries and travelling, and this is clearly shown in the documentary and her decision not to take a particular side. She is shown in the documentary to be against his decision, and as she explains in the Telegraph article, she was “glad [she] fought him over it.” The documentary also shows discussions between Mr Binner and his friends and medical professionals over whether he was making the right choice and whether he would change his mind, which is reflected by Mrs Binner in her article and provides a summary which is food for thought for the future:

“I have an uneasiness about a system that doesn’t allow open discussion of the despair people feel in the face of illnesses like this. And I still wonder: did we do enough to make him want to stay longer? Simon’s decision was never just about an illness - it made us grapple with the whole of point of human existence, and consider the sanctity of life itself.”