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BBC OnePanorama


Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
A good time to say goodbye?
Diane Pretty and her husband Brian
Panorama looked at both sides of the debate about making assisted suicide for terminally ill people legal.

We received a lot of emails after the programme and it is still possible to watch it on demand by clicking on the globe on the right hand side of this screen. You can continue to take part in debate on the BBC website.

Andrew Lloyd was one of several teachers who he emailed us after the programme. He wrote:

"I am a teacher of Religious Education and Philosophy and Ethics and wondered if it would be possible to use this programme as a resource to teach GCSE pupils about the different arguments concerning Euthanasia. I felt that the programme would allow pupils to see the reality of 'living' with such terminal illnesses and would give them an invaluable insight which they could use to inform their own opinions."

Sarah Clarke, a teacher from Scotland emailed:

"Last night's euthanasia debate was excellent and perfect for a topic I cover with my standard grade class at school."

Diana Wilson was not happy with the programme and told us:

"I watched last night's Panorama programme with mounting disbelief. I felt it reached an all-time low. We were not told the basis on which the audience was selected and the anti-bill lobby sought to muddy the waters of the debate by introducing irrelevant issues. It was a travesty of the serious way in which this bill should be considered.

"While I felt sorry that someone born with cerebral palsy should now have another affliction I could not see the relevance of her argument. She has obviously not yet experienced the pain and despair of, say, Diane Pretty and her husband.

Diane Pretty
Diane Pretty fought for assisted suicide but failed

"There are many, many people in this and other countries battling with relentless and continual pain who would agree that we must always soldier on but there are a few for whom the end is horrendous beyond belief and I do not believe that any other person should deny them an ending even if it means that they require assistance.

"This whole important issue should be debated without religious input or other emotional issues introduced. We are talking about a few patients who can no longer tolerate an existence which at present our state insists they must suffer. Who knows what they may one day suffer and who knows what finale they may want. I hope they do not live to regret the views expressed last night both in the debate and in the vote."

David Gray raised a question which has been asked by a large number of people in the BBC website debate which followed Panorama and which you can still join.

"Why is it that we regularly kill animals to put them out of their misery, yet if an animal had the intelligence to say 'please put me out of my misery' we would immediately prolong it?"

For Anne Henderson, the programme compelled her to tell us about her own difficult story:

"I have just watched the Panorama Documentary on Diane Pretty. I want to say that I am fully in favour of ending the suffering of a loved one. I speak from personal experience, my youngest child was diagnosed with a terminal condition before the age of 2. She died age 10. What we went through as a family because of her illness was barbaric. My marriage was destroyed, my older children were passed from pillar to post and eventually put into foster care because I spent months on end at a time in hospital with the sick child.

"I was given no help from the state, within a fortnight of her death my benefits were cut to the bare minimum and I found myself seeking full time employment just as the grieving process was beginning, because what I was given in benefits did not cover my mortgage, let alone utilities.

"I would bet that those that are against assisted suicide or euthanasia have had no personal experience of the devastation living with terminal illness and the knock on effect it has on normal family life.

"I was one of the lucky ones. Because I am of strong character I was able to work at restoring my children's faith in me, and for several years worked 72 hour weeks just to catch up with my bills and keep my head above water."

Adele Evans was unhappy about the way Diane Pretty was shown in the film. These were excerpts from a previous Panorama film called Please Let Me Die. Adele emailed:

"I was dismayed to see the way her dignity, privacy and confidentiality was invaded. The images shown of her home care and treatment degraded a woman in a vulnerable position. Not only is she vulnerable and her dignity and privacy is encroached on as a result of her condition but to exploit this fact on national television does not make relevance to the ethical argument the programme is dealing with."

But James Bull who is studying law said he found the film helpful:

"Thank you very much for what was a fascinating programme. I am a law student who is studying sentencing procedures for my dissertation and one of the topics which I am covering is the assisted suicide topic."

Please help me die
29 Apr 02 |  Panorama
Doctors oppose right-to-die law
10 May 06 |  Health

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