LONDON, UK, Mon Apr 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame has come out as a proponent of assisted suicide.
In an interview with the Sunday Times yesterday the actor expressed his support for Dignity in Dying, a group campaigning for a change to the UK law banning assisted suicide, saying the choice to have an assisted death “should be a right.”
“A lot of it has to do with my age,” he said. “I had a heart procedure five years ago. I was 70 last year and there is something about achieving threescore years and 10, isn’t there? Then I had a family member who had been very ill and quite recently I’d heard the story of an illness and a death.”
“I have the strong feeling that, should the time come for me, having had no role in my birth, I would like there to be a choice I might make about how I die,” Stewart, best known for his role as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek, told the newspaper.
Alex Schadenberg, director of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, commented to LifeSiteNews that Patrick Stewart’s fears related to his health and aging are a normal and human response.
However, “though Stewart is a known actor, that doesn’t make his concerns anymore important than those of the average person,” Schadenberg observed.
“To legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide is not about a right to die, but rather a right to be killed. To legalize causing or aiding the deaths of others, though, is not a private matter because it involves a doctor who causes the death and society who allows it.”
Schadenberg suggested that the proper approach is to address the fear of “an uncomfortable death” head on, rather than addressing “whether or not society should give his doctor the right to kill him.”
“The response in society should be to deal with the actual concerns that Stewart is confronting, rather than to legalize killing,” he said.
Stewart joins a small cadre of personalities that have recently expressed their support for the assisted suicide movement.
Chris Broad, a well-known former British cricket player, told the Daily Telegraph yesterday he has become a patron of Dignity in Dying since discovering that his wife Michelle, who had motor neurone disease, had killed herself with a mixture of sleeping pills and painkillers in July last year.
“I’d back assisted suicide law change,” Broad said.
The proclamations by Stewart and Broad follow closely the announcement by the BBC that they will broadcast a documentary this summer, presented by pro-euthanasia campaigner Sir Terry Pratchett, showing a man with motor neurone disease killing himself at Switzerland’s Dignitas assisted suicide facility.
Dr. Peter Saunders, director of the Care Not Killing anti-euthanasia group, expressed his concern over the display of actual suicide on TV as well as the probable lack of impartiality in the program.
“The BBC is acting like a cheerleader for legalising assisted suicide,” Saunders told the media.
“It is regrettable that a man’s death will be shown on screen but we are also concerned that this documentary will not be balanced. Given Sir Terry Pratchett’s position, the fear is that it will show all the supposed benefits of assisted death with very little redress.”
Conservative MP Nadine Dorries seconded Dr. Saunders’ concerns, saying that the BBC was “normalising a very serious issue.”
“It is pushing back a moral boundary. A programme like this will romanticise assisted death and dying,” said the MP. “This is an authored piece so it will be one-sided. I hope the BBC is thinking of ways it can present the counter-argument.”