I have to say that I agree with Guardian reviewer Rebecca Nicolson, who said “I would like to call for an end to television shows being called road trips when they simply involve going somewhere”, but that of course is not the point of Prue & Danny’s programme which is available on the Channel 4 website now.
Here’s the ‘Lift Pitch’ (as we used to call it back in the days that I used to try to get my ideas turned into TV programmes). “Prue Leith supports assisted dying. Her son Danny Kruger MP is against. Can a trip to North America, where assisted dying is legal, resolve their differences?”
I think it was Andrew Marr who said, “if the headline asks a question, the answer is always ‘no'” and it astonishes me that despite 25 years of scrupulously recorded evidence from Oregon, the opponents of assisted dying remain so obdurate, but what I liked about this thoughtful and nuanced film was not only that it gave Prue and Danny space and time to discuss a subject about which they fundamentally disagreed, but also that they did so with empathy and mutual respect.
The debate about Assisted Dying has been going on in Scotland for a long time now. I campaigned for the bill proposed by the late Margo MacDonald, MSP, which was resoundingly defeated in 2010, and for its successor, championed by Green MSP Patrick Harvie which met the same fate, but Scottish Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur is confident that his bill will be more successful when it is finally debated in the Scottish Parliament this year because it has been backed by more than a quarter of all MSPs.
The stats haven’t actually changed that much in the intervening period. Public support for assisted dying was 80% back in 2010. When McArthur published the outcome of his public consultation last September, 76% of those who responded expressed full support for the proposed legislation. A 2020 Gallup poll shows that roughly the same percentage of Americans feel the same way.
I don’t know what it will take to get our lawmakers to do the right thing, but I hope that this time, we’ll be ‘third time lucky’. Several states in Australia changed their law on assisted dying recently, and what they called Voluntary assisted dying (VAD) will become legal in New South Wales in November of this year.
I was moved by this recent article by Greg Mewett, a palliative care physician of many years standing. He is a “conscientious provider” of VAD in Victoria, but he never imagined that he’d actually find himself supporting a friend and his family with an assisted death.
You may already know what you think on this issue, but if you’re still undecided, I hope Doctor Merrett’s words strike a chord. As he wrote, “My good friend died peacefully and with great dignity. These circumstances can occur with good palliative care, with or without VAD, yet it seems that offering assisted dying as a genuine choice is vital in expanding the dying person’s options. It might not be the choice we would make but the patient is at the centre of all this – it is their suffering and it should be their choice.”