It appears the BBC has crossed a moral line. They are about to televise a program they recorded whereby they watched a man, with motor neurone disease, take a cocktail of lethal drugs at the Swiss Clinic Dignitas. They filmed his final hours of life and his eventual death. This program, which will be screened on BBC2 has caused some outrage.
The show’s presenter, Sir Terry Pratchett, the novelist, himself a supporter of euthanasia and suffering from a rare form of Alzheimer’s, says that “I believe everybody possessed of a debilitating and incurable disease should be allowed to pick the hour of their death.”
However a Conservative MP has said that the program is “pushing back a moral boundary.”
But what moral boundary is being pushed back? The fact that euthanasia is being openly practiced in Europe or that the show will televise something which the majority of us want to desparately ignore – the process of death?
I have been with people as they have died in hospitals and hospices. The moment of death for most it is not as dramatic as some of the things you see on the film screen today. What makes this program so controversial is not WHAT they will see (a man slowly stopping breathing) but the reality that one day that WILL BE THEM. This program will confront those who watch it with something most of them wish to ignore – death.
Our culture desperately seeks to avoid death. We have hidden the process of death away. But it is a reality we all face.
I am against Dignitas. I do not believe active euthanasia is right. But in an age where moral boundaries have been pushed beyond the limits in so many areas of life and that people accept that killing babies in the womb is acceptable I find it interesting that on this issue people are wanting to draw a moral line. The film star Patrick Stewart (of Star Trek fame) has become patron of an organisation campaigning to legalise assisted suicide in the UK.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, the 70-year-old said the choice to have an assisted death “should be a right”.
“Should the time come for me… I would like there to be a choice I might make about how I die,”
Patrick Stewart reveals the heart of the issue – that human beings should have the right to choose the when and the how of their death.
It is the sign of the complete seperation of humanity from God – it is our right to be born how we wish, live how we wish, do what we wish, and die how we wish. It is the final removal of God from the human life.
The process of death is one of the times where God can come and change a heart. I think we will be shocked at how many people are in heaven because they converted on their death bed, as they threw themselves in their despair, as death approached, on the last hope, Jesus Christ.
But now, the call is to take even that hope away. To allow people to take their own life, at the time of their choice, to thrust themselves into eternity before they have reached a place where they may call on the name of God.
And this is what is tragic about the whole movement for assisted suicide and the Dignitas movement. In their belief they are taking away suffering and pain, they may in fact be encouraging people to their deaths only to find that they are eternally seperated from God and that their suffering has not ended.