MPs tell BBC: you’re pushing euthanasia

A cross-party group of MPs is accusing the BBC of showing “persistent bias” in favour of euthanasia.

The criticism follows two programmes broadcast by the BBC on the same night which supported assisted suicide.

Over 20 MPs have now signed an Early Day Motion which accuses the BBC of conducting a “multi-million pound campaign” to promote euthanasia.

The MPs, led by Conservative Ann Winterton, also charge the BBC with ignoring the rights of disabled people.

The motion says the BBC has disregarded the fact that “every disability rights group in the UK is opposed to the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia”.

The MPs also say bias is shown in the BBC’s “thinly-disguised plays and soap operas” as well as its news coverage.

They say these promote the use of euthanasia and misrepresent pro-life activists in the UK as “people of violence”.

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

A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC takes its responsibilities very seriously which is why we have reported these issues in a careful, balanced, and impartial way”.

He also said the Panorama programme “featured the views of Baroness Campbell who is against any move towards legalisation”.

The spokesman added that the Richard Dimbleby Lecture, which hosted Sir Terry Pratchett’s comments, is “an annual event that has covered a range of topics over time”.

In their Early Day Motion the MPs add that the Government should “make it clear to the BBC that public funds will be withdrawn” unless it ensures that all programmes on issues of public interest are treated impartially.

The signatories note that several complaints have been made by MPs over the years “on the manner in which the BBC have misused public funds to promote changes in the law”.

In January last year the BBC was criticised for showing a drama which portrayed a group of pro-life campaigners as violent extremists.

Earlier this week a disability leader warned that vulnerable individuals need support and encouragement instead of help to commit suicide.

Phil Friend, Chairman of the Royal Association for Disability Rights, cautioned that any change in the law would “create a class of people from whom legal protection can be taken away”.

And last week a disabled woman who twenty five years ago had a “settled wish” to die wrote, in a letter to a national newspaper, that her “life is worth living” despite her pain.

Alison Davis wrote: “Having spina bifida, hydrocephalus, emphysema, osteoporosis and arthritis, I spend my life in a wheelchair. I also spend a lot of time in bed, as sitting up can make the pain worse.”

But Miss Davis, who is the National Co-ordinator of disability group No Less Human, concluded: “My experience shows that it’s possible to come out on the other side and to demonstrate that life is worth living.”