The recent publicity attracted by Sky television's decision to screen the death of 59-year-old motor neurone disease sufferer Craig Ewert, has once again ignited the controversial debate on assisted suicide. As always, this is a very personal dilemma, and it would rank as one of the most painful and contentious issues that any family would ever have to face, and, as such, eCourt would never chastise any family or individual for whatever conclusions they came to.

So, while eCourt respects the Ewert family's decision to go ahead with the painful decision to assist in Craig's suicide, it does not believe that Sky television should have broadcast his death. It seemed to have little to do with free speech or liberty and more to do with exploitation and publicity grabbing by the broadcaster in question.

If Sky had wanted to air a debate about the pros and cons of assisted suicide, then eCourt would have been all in favour of it. The arguments for and against helping a loved one to end years of suffering is not just a worth while programme, but also an honourable public service. As medical science continues to advance, and in ways in which we had never imagined when the majority of our laws were ratified, the arguments for and against become ever more complicated. It would be impossible to regulate something which is so personal and in which the individual circumstances would be different in each and every case.

There are many in Britain who believe that the law should be changed to allow assisted suicides in this country. But surely, this would be an extremely dangerous precedent to set as it would be open to exploitation from disaffected families, embittered lovers, wrong loved ones, cuckolded husbands, greedy heirs and many more reasons that reflect the more unsavoury side of human nature.

On top of that, it could put pressure on the elderly and weak to agree to an assisted suicide in the mistaken belief that to go on as they are would be to be a burden on their own family or country. And although in 99% of all cases this would probably not be true, there are always a small minority who spoil it for everyone and who could not be trusted with the power of life and death over another human being.

The eCourt verdict then is that Britain should not give in to the pressures of the libertarians who are currently pressing to legalise assisted suicides in this country. Instead, eCourt would encourage an open and honest debate on the individual rights of each and every case to be reviewed on merit and merit alone. Sky should seriously question their moral and ethical values when they broadcast the death of a man in the name of entertainment. Under British law, the act of assisted suicide goes under another name, murder.


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