Those who have some experience of death are against a change in the law.

I had the woeful mishap of stumbling across telly programme ‘This Morning’ (funnily enough this morning) after eating breakfast and preparing myself for the day whilst having a cuppa. We were treated to the forever crying and doe-eyed dunce Holly Willoughby and overpaid cretinous creep Scofield both delightfully cheering on the ever growing and very well funded campaign to legalise euthanasia. While you might think this silly chat show isn’t worth much comment, I find the way it was conducted a depressing summary and rather cold reflection of the current wider debate (or rather lack of) on euthanasia.

As viewers we were ‘informed’ that a womens’ bloke had simply “committed suicide to prevent his family from being prosecuted” for ‘helping’ him to die. Notice how language is purposefully and cynically distorted to enforce opinions? It was deliberately presented that the *only* options were demeaning and shocking yet heroic suicide to prevent family imprisonment or fluffy friendly legal ‘assisted suicide’ and it was suggested the denial of this paradigm means undignified torturous suffering all round.

The man is held up as a brave victim having ‘no choice’ but to ‘save’ his family from inevitable persecution for merely ‘assisting’ their loved one. However heart-wrenching the case may have been these are of course not remotely the facts at all. No mention whatsoever was given to the fact that this man had made an *active choice* to kill himself that he does not have to make. No mention is given to the great potential in improving palliative care of dying patients. No mention is given to the fact that such personal/individual hard cases no matter how distressing should not hold sway in changing longstanding carefully implemented regulations and legislation. No mention is given to the ever increasing pressure on our most vulnerable citizens to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others. No mention is given to the danger of altering National policy to suit the whims of those who are in a volatile depressive state. No mention was given to the connection between euthanasia and eugenics- the deliberate State sanctioned attempt to sterilise populations of ‘inferior’ disabled persons. No mention was given to the full and wonderful lives the disabled, elderly and sick can still fulfill even in their dying days.

That the priority must be proper and improved palliative care was ignored. When we are helping fulfilling the health, emotional, social, spiritual, physical and psychological needs of those suffering in Hospital the requests for euthanasia are next to non-existent. The show also disregarded the important point that penalties act as a strong deterrent to those wishing to exploit the elderly and disabled close to the end of their life for monetary or other gain. There will be no ‘choice’ or ‘freedom’ for these people when various sinister elements move in once our law is weakened by shortsighted irrational emotionalism. To accommodate the demands of a tiny proportion of emotive and desperately determined people we could be jeopardising the lives of countless others who may be under threat of exploitation, abuse and lack of care. The fact that the vast majority of UK doctors, health professionals and nurses are opposed to legalising euthanasia along with the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Association for Palliative Medicine and the British Geriatric Society was also totally passed over by the one-sided ‘Morning Show’ just as it is elsewhere in the media these days.

Medical and Health staff’s opinions who work every day in this field are considered worthless next to made up soap sob stories and highly specific individual cases. All the major disability rights groups in Britain such as Disability Rights UK, SCOPE, UKDPC and Not Dead Yet UK oppose any change in the law as well believing it will lead to increased prejudice towards the disabled and increased pressure on them to end their lives. But you won’t here vapid rich TV presenters mention that. Oh no, that wouldn’t do at all now would it.

Unlike the multi-millionaire celebrities who are promoting this policy I speak as someone who has nursed terminally ill patients and provided palliative care in Hospitals for several years on many wards in the South-West of England. Through not only my experience working in the NHS but also my personal life, (I no longer have any elderly relatives alive) and moral outlook I find the level of discussion around these highly sensitive and complicated issues extraordinarily offensive. It is ridiculous that we are debasing the debate so it wallows around farcical fictional soap stories and emotive extremely personalised and individual accounts. These are expected to be the measure of the debate? What an awful joke.

Notice also how ‘opinion polls’ are misused by the liberal media with regard to the end of life. Holly Willoughby enthusiastically stated at the start of the programme in question (and the emphasis must be placed on programme as the wish of these fools is of course to programme the populous into their blinkered way of thinking), that a ‘study suggests’ 3/4 of  the public ‘support’ the ‘right to die.’ Of course it is not explained where or how this ‘information’ is collected, what is fully meant by the ‘right to die’ and of course no concrete facts or details are highlighted. It has long been obvious that such ‘polls’ are used by the elite as a means of controlling and manipulating the public viewpoint *not* measuring the reality of it. If the poll had found we were opposed to the ruling classes sterilising and killing of the poor, disabled and old then another poll would be created to ‘prove’ the opposite. Just so we all know where we ‘really’ stand. What media guidelines are potentially being transgressed here? They don’t care. For those interested in the reality of ‘opinion polls’ used in this way see this funny scene from ‘Yes Prime Minister’ which may help amusingly illustrate my point-

The bottom line is parliament has rightly rejected the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia in Britain three times since 2006 out of concern for public safety – in the House of Lords (2006 and 2009) and in Scotland (2010) – and repeated extensive inquiries have concluded that a change in the law is not necessary. Despite inflammatory propaganda on behalf of the case to change the law it has been consistently refuted by those who actually know what they’re talking about and the current shallow hype around a soap opera plot line will not change that fact.

This debate is sensitive, complicated and is being totally ruined and dumbed down by TV presenters and the BBC’s non-stop wish to sway the debate in favour of legalisation by eliciting emotionally charged responses without any reference to what medical professionals and us nursing staff think on these issues, or any consideration of the facts. Instead we are presented with nonsense.

Consider when peoples texts/emails were being read out by the Willoughby. Of course far more in favour of legalisation were read out and were read out first (those opposing euthanasia are forever patronisingly considered as a quaint afterthought as though they don’t know what they are talking about) and of course Willoghby had to jump in and ‘correct’ one of the anti-legalisation letters before it had even been finished rather than giving it an equal and fair say. This is an entirely underhand way of gerrymandering and influencing the public with emotional and bias bombardment. What we need is fair, honest and reasoned debate. Something the liberalisers are incapable of. Kevin Yuell has written well on this subject for Spiked Online. Please also see this in The Mirror- (http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/coronation-street-hayley-cropper-suicide-3020148).

For Spiked Online Kevin Yuell writes: “Many a soap-opera storyline has created a news story in itself. So it was in the case of Hayley Cropper, a character on a British soap, Coronation Street. News of what happens to Hayley, in an episode to be shown tonight, created a furore when the press release for the story went out last Tuesday. The dilemma for the writers was how to kill off a character who had been a mainstay of the programme since 1998, when she was introduced as the first transsexual character. The answer, provided by producer Stuart Blackburn, was to have the character dying of pancreatic cancer, but finishing herself off with a cocktail of drugs in an on-screen suicide.

Julie Hesmondhalgh, the actor who plays Hayley, called for a discussion on legalising assisted suicide. She was backed by Sara Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, who praised the show’s ‘sensible and sensitive handling of assisted dying’. Lord Falconer, whose Assisted Dying Bill will be introduced in the House of Lords in the coming months, penned an article in the Sun. The Sun’s editorial called for a change in the law and the newspaper published the results of a poll indicating that 69 per cent of Britons support the legalisation of assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

On the other hand, the Samaritans, a group that provides counselling to those feeling suicidal, warned that television programmes show suicide as too easy and that the Coronation Street story might lead to copycat suicides. Alistair Thompson of Care Not Killing, which opposes euthanasia and supports palliative care, agreed that the programme promoted suicide. ‘They should have focused on the amazing work done in hospices and hospital wards across the country’, he said.

It is difficult not to suspect – despite the even-handedness of the treatment of the issue (the character’s on-screen husband, Roy Cropper, opposes Hayley’s decision) – that the programme is part of the well-funded campaign to legalise assisted suicide. Stuart Blackburn had previously explored the same issue while at a rival soap, Emmerdale. (He perhaps risks becoming the Jack Kevorkian of the soap world.) Hesmondhalgh was forthright about her support for a change in the law in several interviews, and many journalists seem poised to call again for the legalisation of assisted suicide.

But it is entirely appropriate that a fictional plotline is used to promote legalising assisted suicide. The reason that so many people wish to have the ‘right to die’ is based on the morbid imagination of the ‘worried well’, traded on so effectively by right-to-die campaigners. ‘What if it happened to YOU…?’ is the plotline of Dignity in Dying and other organisations that campaign for legalised assisted suicide.

The stories these organisation promote are often heartbreaking tales of real people faced with awful circumstances. But the image of being trapped in a body wracked with pain is false. Pain does not even feature in the top five reasons why people opt for an assisted death in areas where it is legal. The top three reasons given are loss of autonomy, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of dignity.

Moreover, how many of the 70 per cent who support a change in the law would exercise the ‘right’ to die, if it were legal? In the US states of Oregon and Washington, where assisted suicide is legal, less than two per cent of those who qualify for it go through with it. Not even the most prominent campaigners for a right to die choose to exercise it, opting instead to hang on to what little life is left.

This explains the wide disparity of opinions on legalisation between the general public, who are generally supportive, and those who have some experience of death – like those in the hospice movement, doctors and other medical professionals – of whom a majority are against a change in the law.

There is another dimension to Corrie’s storyline: it is a suicide, not an assisted suicide. If Hayley’s death were arranged under legal auspices, it would not be a quiet, personal moment. Instead, it would have to feature paperwork, mandatory counselling, psychiatric reports, visits by doctors and lawyers; rather than an intimate final scene, there might have to be lawyers and social workers present, too. As one of the more intelligent articles on the debate about Hayley Cropper’s death noted: ‘Life, though, is usually not so straightforward as Coronation Street would have it be.’” (http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/hayley_cropper_and_the_fiction_of_assisted_suicide/14536#.Ut09tBBFDIU)

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