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Right to Life welcomes BSA decision

Media Release Monday 16th November 2015 Embargoed till 1 pmMonday

Right to Life welcomes the decision of the Broadcasting Standards Authority [BSA] to uphold its complaint against the TV programme Seven Sharp. The decision was given on 10 November 2015. The item featured the story of a terminally ill woman who is a longstanding campaigner for euthanasia. The item which screened on 16 February 2015, also included a history of the attempts to pass euthanasia legislation in New Zealand and overseas. The item did not include any information on the views of those opposed to euthanasia such as those being put forward by the medical profession, disability groups or palliative care specialists.

Right to Life believes that the decision is a wakeup call for the media. The BSA state in their decision, “ [29 ]Our findings in that case [and others before it] relied on our expectation that balance on this issue would be presented over time. We considered that to be a reasonable expectation. However, we have not seen this occurring and in our experience it is not straightforward to seek out the alternative view in TVNZ programmes or in other media The Authority has determined numerous balance complaints in recent years about programmes which promulgated the pro-euthanasia position, and we have rarely, if at all, been pointed to evidence of the other view being put forward.”

The Authority upheld the complaint on the grounds that the item lacked balance and was in breach of Standard 4,” which requires that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed in news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest. The standard exists to ensure that competing arguments are presented to enable a viewer to arrive at an informed and reasoned opinion.”

Euthanasia is a life and death issue, it is about doctors killing their patients or assisting in their suicide. Right to Life considers that this decision is a victory for the community. The community has a right to receive factual information on euthanasia that will enable them to be fully informed. The media make a major contribution to the formation of public opinion. This entails having a significant responsibility to provide balance. The media should be informing the community that the overwhelming international response to legalising euthanasia legislation is that this is simply to dangerous and if introduced many people would lose their lives without their knowledge or consent.. The most recent rejection of a change to liberalisation of euthanasia laws is that of the UK’s House of Commons which overwhelming rejected the Marris Assisted Suicide bill in September 2015 330 to 118.

The media is at the service of the community. It stands in the watchtower overlooking our community. It has a duty to warn our community when our freedoms are under attack. Assisting suicide and homicide are serious crimes in the Crimes Act, Provisions in the Crimes Act against Assisted Suicide and homicide are there to protect the vulnerable in our community. Why then is the media attempting to undermine these laws? Euthanasia is part of a culture of death. it is being promoted in this country under the guise of compassion, with arguments designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable. There is no dignity in being murdered by your doctor. Why is the media not standing side by side with the medical profession which opposed killing as it promotes palliative care at the end of life.

The media should be warning our community of the dire consequences which would follow for the aged, the disabled and seriously ill, if the law was changed to allow doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide.

Ken Orr


Right to Life.

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