Liz Carr's Documentary Sparks Debate on Assisted Dying in the UK

Actress and disability rights campaigner Liz Carr fronts a new BBC documentary, "Better Off Dead?", exploring the legalization of assisted dying and its impact on vulnerable people. The documentary features Carr's visit to a Canadian clinic where assisted dying is legal, reigniting the debate on euthanasia in the UK.

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Nitish Verma
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Liz Carr's Documentary Sparks Debate on Assisted Dying in the UK

Liz Carr's Documentary Sparks Debate on Assisted Dying in the UK

Actress and disability rights campaigner Liz Carr is fronting a new BBC documentary titled "Better Off Dead?" which explores the legalization of assisted dying and its potential impact on vulnerable and disabled people. The documentary, set to air on Tuesday, features a visit to a Canadian clinic where assisted dying is legal, reigniting the debate on euthanasia in the UK.

Why this matters: The debate on assisted dying has significant implications for the rights and protections of vulnerable populations, including the disabled and elderly. As the UK considers legalizing assisted dying, it is crucial to weigh the potential consequences of such a law on these groups and the broader society.

Carr, who has been a vocal opponent of assisted dying for over a decade, suffers from a rare genetic condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenital, which affects her joints and muscles. She has been a wheelchair user since falling ill at the age of seven. "From my appearance, most people will think I was born disabled, but I wasn't, so I understand what becoming disabled means," Carr said.

The documentary comes amidst recent discussions and petitions on euthanasia in the UK, including one backed by Esther Rantzen that has attracted over 200,000 signatures. This led to a debate among MPs on the issue, though assisted dying, better, dead remains illegal in the country. Carr hopes her documentary will give a voice to the opposing side, which she believes has been underrepresented.

In the documentary, Carr travels to Canada, which legalized Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID) in 2016, to visit a clinic where people can end their lives. She described the experience as "chilling" and "surreal," emphasizing the importance of showing the reality of assisted dying. "You can talk about this subject morally and ethically... But then it's like, let's be practical. I wanted to see where is the room? How does it happen?" Carr said.

Carr also shares her personal experiences and views on assisted dying, including an emotional conversation with her mother about her own struggles with becoming disabled. She recounts feeling miserable as a child and not seeing a future for herself. "I knew I was miserable, but to say I'd rather be dead? It hurts me to hear that my younger self didn't see a future," Carr said. "I would love to tell her you'll fall in love, have mates, travel the world and do a job people can only dream of. She wouldn't have believed any of it."

While celebrities like Rantzen, Dame Prue Leith, and Sir Patrick Stewart have spoken out in support of assisted dying, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer believing there are grounds for changing the law, Carr remains unconvinced. She believes legalizing assisted dying would be dangerous for disabled people, who are often told they're "better off dead" than disabled.

Carr first asked the BBC to make the documentary in 2011, but it took six years to get the green light. She is glad her views, which she believes represent many other disabled people, are finally out there. As the UK faces pressure to follow countries like Canada, the Netherlands, and Belgium in legalizing assisted dying, Carr's actress, laws, houses documentary is set to add an important perspective to the ongoing debate.

Key Takeaways

  • Liz Carr's BBC documentary "Better Off Dead?" explores assisted dying and its impact on vulnerable people.
  • Carr, a disability rights campaigner, visits a Canadian clinic where assisted dying is legal.
  • She opposes assisted dying, fearing it would be dangerous for disabled people who are often told they're "better off dead".
  • The documentary aims to give a voice to the opposing side of the debate, which Carr believes has been underrepresented.
  • The documentary sparks a timely debate as the UK considers legalizing assisted dying, following countries like Canada and Belgium.