British TV Will Show Man’s Death Swiss Euthanasia Clinic, Family Not Charged

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British TV Will Show Man’s Death at Swiss Euthanasia Clinic, Family Not Charged

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 9
, 2008

London, England ( — A national controversy in Britain has been sparked by news that a British television show will reveal footage of 59-year-old Craig Ewert taking his life at a euthanasia clinic in Switzerland. Meanwhile, Ewert’s family will escape any charges in connection with his death despite the UK’s law against assisted suicide.

Ewert had motor neurone disease, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s syndrome in the United States.

The footage shows him putting his ventilator on a timer, taking a lethal cocktail and dying minutes later.

Ewert’s suicide at the Dignitas clinic was filmed for a documentary called Right To Die – The Suicide Tourist that will be shown on the Sky Real Lives channel Wednesday night.

In the video Ewert says, "I am tired of the disease but I am not tired of living. I still enjoy life enough that I would like to continue but the thing is that I really cannot."

This will be the first occasion on which a suicide has been shown on British television.

Wesley J. Smith, a leading American bioethicist says Ewert’s comments and others show that he is suffering from depression that should have been treated rather than resorting to suicide.

"Clearly, this was a suicide caused by depression and despair–and fear of the future," he said. "I wonder if he or his family consulted with hospice professionals who could have assured him that he wouldn’t have to suffer terribly unable to cry out."

John Beyer director of Mediawatch UK, told the Daily Mail newspaper he worries the program will promote euthanasia and violate British law.

"If this program is not impartial and promotes euthanasia then it would be in breach of the act – in short it must not influence members of the public or a change in the law," he said.

Ewert paid Dignitas a few thousand dollars for the suicide, cremation and shipping his ashes back to the UK.

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