Browsing articles in "Medical ethics"
Jan 6, 2012
neil

Does bias at the BBC means your money is promoting assisted suicide?

The very first item of news on the BBC 5live breakfast programme yesterday morning was ‘Experts say patients with less than a year to live should be given help to die at home.’

So important was the news that the item was given the prime-time slot after the 8am news (listen in at 2hrs and 6 minutes) and was later a major focus on the Victoria Derbyshire show in which she interviewed Lord Falconer the chair of a ‘Commission on Assisted Dying’.

So who was interviewed, what views were put forward and how should we assess the BBC’s coverage?

For some inexplicable reason the BBC decided that rather than interview a member of the panel who supported its conclusion alongside one of the many voices opposed to its conclusion it would instead simply interview two members of the panel in support.

Nor did the BBC even decide to include in the interview the one and only member of the commission, Reverend Canon Dr. James Woodward, who did not support its conclusion  (unlike the Channel 4 7pm news later in the day).

Rachel Burden although making reference to opponents to a change in the law on assisted suicide  failed to highlight just how widespread that opposition really is.

Peter Saunders CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship has written extensively drawing attention to much that the BBC failed miserably to reveal.

You might think that listeners would like to have known a number of facts about the commission exposed by Dr. Saunders and yet not raised by Ms. Burden in the interview. For example wouldn’t it have been helpful to know that;

1. ‘Nine of the twelve members, handpicked by Falconer, are already known to favour a change in the law, including all four parliamentarians and all four doctors

That might have been especially pertinent when Penny Mordant MP (a member of the panel) was allowed to get away with stating in the interview ‘Members of the panel – many of them are very sceptical’ and further that the panel held ‘a very wide range of views.’

2. ‘46 individuals and 40 organisations who were invited to give evidence to the commission refused to do so.’

3. ‘all the major disability rights organisations in the UK (RADAR, UKDPC, NCIL, SCOPE, Not Dead Yet) oppose a change in the law.’

4. ‘The British Medical Association opposes a change in the law.’

5. ‘95% of Palliative Medicine Specialists are opposed to a change in the law

Instead the best we got from Rachel Burden was just one question about where the funding came from and therefore whether it was truly independent.

On the basis of the cross-examination of the two commissioners offered by the BBC it was impossible to arrive at a fair and unbiased assessment of the issues surrounding both the commission itself and the views of the wider medical profession.

 

Jun 24, 2011
neil

Does the BBC promote assisted suicide?

Dr. Peter Saunders certainly thinks there is a case to answer to.

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