Doc scolds BBC for anti-religious spin

The BBC has been rebuked by a doctor for flipping the emphasis of a medical study on end-of-life care to support an anti-religious stance.

The study concluded that “non-religious” doctors were more likely to make decisions that speed up the death of patients.

But the BBC twisted the emphasis of the conclusion, giving the headline: “Religion may influence doctors’ end of life care”.


Dr Rosemary Barrett, a Director of the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, said the move may have been “sinister”.

The publicly-funded broadcaster was slammed by a group of MPs earlier this year for adopting a persistent pro-euthanasia bias.

Last month’s study, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, showed doctors who described themselves as “non-religious” are more likely to have given their patients continuous deep sedation until death.

The study found also revealed that doctors with a strong faith were less likely to discuss treatments that would speed up their patients’ deaths.


Dr Barrett said by using the headline: “Religion may influence doctors’ end-of-life care” the BBC was implying “that being ‘non-religious’ is the ‘norm’ and a doctor with religious beliefs the exception”.

She also referred to comments by a spokesman for the British Medical Association (BMA) who said that “the religious beliefs of doctors should not be allowed to influence objective, patient-centred decision-making”.

She said: “Perhaps we should now be insisting that the atheist beliefs of doctors should not be allowed to influence ‘objective, patient-centred decision-making'”.


In February this year the Care Not Killing Alliance accused the BBC of pursuing an “incredibly zealous” campaign in favour of assisted suicide.

Lord Carlile, chairman of the Alliance, said the BBC was breaking impartiality rules and adopting a “campaigning stance” to increase pressure on the Government to legalise assisted suicide.

On 1 February the BBC broadcast a public lecture in which author Sir Terry Pratchett called for assisted suicide tribunals to decide on cases of people who want to die.

On the same evening a Panorama programme featured a poll which appeared to show a swing in favour of weakening assisted suicide laws.

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