UNITED KINGDOM, April 20, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – School children as young as 14 are being taught about euthanasia and assisted-suicide in a new educational video featuring notorious euthanasia promoter Dr. Philip Nitschke, known by many as “Dr. Death.”
In the 20-minute film, produced by Classroom Video, Nitschke, the Australian founder and director of the euthanasia group “Exit International,” demonstrates the use of his suicide machine that dispenses lethal injections.
The film also presents footage of Dr. Nitschke’s highly controversial assisted-suicide workshops. In them, Nitschke demonstrates and explains methods of assisted suicide, including the “exit bag” and “Peaceful Pills.”
The film targets students aged 14 to 18 throughout the UK enrolled in GCSE (general certificate of secondary education) philosophy courses that include euthanasia in the curriculum. The film also features former doctor, Michael Irwin, who expresses his pleasure helping people kill themselves at the infamous Swiss Dignitas suicide “clinic.”
Producer and director Thomasina Gibson said, “If you are going to treat teenagers as young adults you have to give them all sides of the argument and let them debate it and make their own minds up. We have had extremely positive responses from pupils and teachers.”
Meanwhile, the film has caused a huge stir in the country, even among pro-euthanasia groups. A spokesman for the group “Dignity in Dying” criticized the inclusion of “Dr. Death” in the film, saying, “We encourage the discussion of euthanasia and assisted dying, but do not advocate anybody promoting methods of ending your life.”
The new film is just one of a number of apparent efforts in the UK recently to assuage the public’s aversion to assisted suicide, in what some suspect precedes an effort to usher in new legislation. Currently, under UK law assisting in another person’s suicide is illegal, although this fall the panel Commission on Assisted Dying is scheduled to deliver recommendations to British MPs over a change in the law.
Since 2008 the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has significantly softened the law, changing the policy to allow family members and friends to help a desperately ill person commit suicide if their motivation does not appear to be personal gain.
These changes reportedly account for the increased number of British suicides at the Dignitas “clinic” in Zurich, Switzerland. Recent numbers released from Dignitas indicate that British suicides rose from an average of 14 per year between 2002 to 2007 to at least 25 per year between 2008 to 2010.
British citizens account for the second highest number of deaths at Dignitas, following only German citizens and exceeding the number of Swiss deaths. Of the 160 Britons who have died at the “clinic” since 2002, no one has been prosecuted for aiding the suicide.
“These figures show we have been right,” said Alistair Thompson of the Care Not Killing Alliance. “The Director of Public Prosecutions’ approach has effectively legitimised assisted suicide and euthanasia in the UK.”
Controversy was also stirred in the last week after Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart’s expressed his support for “Dignity in Dying.” Recently, the BBC has also been accused of acting as a ‘cheerleader for assisted suicide’ after filming a first ever documentary of a man’s suicide at Dignitas.
While the BBC has denied the charge, pro-life advocates maintain assisted-suicide has been on the BBC agenda for years.
“The BBC doesn’t have a stance on assisted suicide, but we do think that this is an important matter of debate,” said BBC spokesman.
The documentary, entitled “Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die,” will be aired on BBC2 this summer. Sir Terry Pratchett, novelist and proponent of assisted suicide, is the producer and a key figure in the documentary. Pratchett accompanies a man, known only as “Peter,” who suffers from motor neurone disease, as his health declines and he chooses to take his life at Dignitas.
“I am a firm believer in assisted death,” said Pratchett, who also suffers from a rare form of early Alzheimer’s. “I believe everybody possessed of a debilitating and incurable disease should be allowed to pick the hour of their death. And I wanted to know more about Dignitas in case I ever wanted to go there myself.”
The film actually captures “Peter” in his last hours and taking his own life, with Pratchett close by his side.
“The BBC is acting like a cheerleader for legalising assisted suicide,” said Dr Peter Saunders, director of the Care Not Killing Association. “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.”
Phyllis Bowman of Right to Life agreed, “Allowing Sir Terry Pratchett to make this documentary is effectively promoting assisted death. My worry is that it will be presented as the preferable option, or the right thing to do when people feel they are getting old or infirm. Having someone who is so well known to be in favour of legalising this process means assisted death will be shown in a positive light.”