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The depiction of an assisted suicide on the popular television soap opera Coronation Street tonight will fuel the view that such a measure can be justified on grounds of compassion, according to an anti-euthanasia lobbying group.
Hayley Cropper, a character with terminal pancreatic cancer, played by Julie Hesmondhalgh, will end her own life in an episode of the ITV soap opera due to air on British television this evening.
Ms Hesmondhalgh, a member of the British Humanist Association, has come out in support of legalising assisted dying.
But the group Living and Dying Well said in a statement: “While it is natural that individual cases, whether in real life or in drama, may arouse feelings of compassion, the key question at stake is not whether ‘assisted dying’ is compassionate or moral, but whether or not it should be licensed by law.”
The group, co-chaired by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC and Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, said the Coronation Street storyline had been used by some to suggest doctors should be licensed to end the lives of terminally ill patients via lethal drugs. The group explained this was a complex area and required a “careful sifting of the evidence”.
It criticised ongoing attempts by the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, to legalise assisted dying. His Private Member’s bill, which is currently before Parliament, seeks to legalise physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.