Right to Die?

Swiss law allows assisted suicide. The only restriction being that there is “no selfish motive” for the death.

For this poignant documentary, Oscar®-winning director John Zaritsky was given exclusive access to Swiss organisation Dignitas, the only establishment in the world which can legally help you to die. Zaritsky documents two compelling but controversial personal stories in this emotionally-charged film. Craig Ewert, a 59-year-old sufferer of motor-neurone disease, has decided he wants a dignified death, rather than the long, painful, but natural, death he is facing. Zaritsky follows his story as he travels to Zurich to meet with Dignitas.

George and Betty Coumbias are a couple in there 70s. George has a deteriorating heart condition and has been given only a few years to live. He wants to take his own life before his health and quality of living deteriorate. But Betty, who is in perfect health, wants to die with her husband. Their case is explained by human rights lawyer Ludwig Minelli, who believes they should both be able to choose to die together. With moral dilemmas, pain, emotion and death, this ground-breaking film asks the question: should we be allowed to choose when we die?

Sky’s decision to broadcast a documentary showing the final moments of a mans assisted suicide in a Swiss euthanasia clinic has drawn fire from anti-euthanasia groups and Britain’s TV watchdog.

Sky’s Real Lives channel will air the controversial documentary at 9:00pm on Wednesday the 10th of December in the hope that Craig Ewert’s exceptional courage would stimulate debate about euthanasia.

Ewert, a sufferer of motor neurone disease, died 45 minutes after swallowing a lethal dose of sedatives and using a mouth-operated switch to turn off his ventilator at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich on September 26, 2006. His wife Mary was at his side during the emotional farewell.

£3,000 was paid to the Swiss clinic which is the only place someone seeking assisted suicide can be legally helped to die, no matter where they are from or what state of health they are in.

Right to Die? was directed by Oscar-winning Canadian director John Zaritsky who spent 12 months with Dignitas and follows intimate, compelling and controversial stories of four lives and one death.

Right to Die? premieres on Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives HD on Wednesday, December 10th 2008.

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