When Assisted Death Is Legal

Episodes

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01The Documentary2013021920130220 (WS)
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Why is assisted suicide legal in Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg?

The debate over assisted suicide and euthanasia is a passionate one. But as the discussions continue to rage around the world, there are a few places where assisted death is already legal. Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Oregon and Washington States in the US all have laws permitting assisted suicide or euthanasia in some form.

In this two-part documentary for the BBC World Service, actress and broadcaster Liz Carr goes on a personal journey to all six places to see how it works. As a long-standing campaigner against assisted suicide legislation in the UK, she wants to find out what assisted death means in practice – and whether she's right to be concerned.

In part one, Carr travels to Switzerland, where she visits the rooms where volunteers help people die, and finds out why the Swiss law on assisted suicide goes back to the 19th Century. In Belgium she meets a doctor who admits to performing euthanasia before it was legal; and in Luxembourg, she finds out why the law on assisted suicide nearly caused a constitutional crisis. Carr questions whether it is possible to balance the right of the individual who wants to die with the responsibility of society to protect those who don't.

(Image: A 'Euthanasia kit', Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

02 LASTThe Documentary2013022020130221 (WS)
20130224 (WS)

Who is most likely to use the Death with Dignity law?

The debate over assisted suicide and euthanasia is a passionate one, and a subject that polarises public opinion. There are a few places where assisted death is already legal. Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Oregon and Washington States in the US all have laws permitting assisted suicide or euthanasia in some form.

In this two-part documentary for the BBC World Service, actress and broadcaster Liz Carr goes on a personal journey to all six places to see how it works. As a long-standing campaigner against assisted suicide legislation in the UK, she wants to find out what assisted death means in practice – and whether she's right to be concerned.

In part two, Carr visits the Netherlands, where she meets the group behind the 'mobile euthanasia units' which hit the headlines last year, and asks whether a law on voluntary life-ending procedures might open the door to involuntary ones. She also visits Oregon and Washington State in the US, where she finds out who is most likely to use the Death with Dignity law, and hears about the cancer patient whose health-care plan refused to pay for chemotherapy – but offered assisted suicide instead.

(Image: Two people holding hands, Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Assisted death is legal in some form in five countries. Liz Carr sees how assisted suic...

Assisted death is legal in some form in five countries. Liz Carr sees how assisted suicide and euthanasia laws work in practice.