'A Short Stay in Switzerland', a new BBC production dramatizing the life and death of Anne Turner, was scheduled to be screened on BBC1 at 9pm on Sunday 25 January, just before the Coroners and Justice Bill had its second reading in Parliament the following day. Was this just coincidence? Pro-euthanasia campaigners are hoping to use the bill, which is actually intended to tighten the law to prevent the glorification of suicide, to introduce amendments to legalise assisted suicide for the terminally ill.
In like manner, Ann Turner's high profile suicide in Switzerland in January 2006, which was covered by a BBC news crew, took place one day after the Voluntary Euthanasia Society changed its name to Dignity in Dying in the lead up to the Joffe Bill debate. The second reading of the Joffe Bill on 12 May 2006 was similarly timed one day after the anniversary of Diane Pretty's death.
MPs and the public should be wary of attempts to massage public opinion through emotive high profile media programmes that do not address the real issues or that approach them in an unbalanced way. We have been here before.