Electronic Telegraph
Saturday 6 September 1997
Issue 834

Cinema shows advert for euthanasia
By Celia Hall, Medical Editor

AN advertisement supporting euthanasia has been shown at a London cinema and may be repeated later this year in conjunction with a leaflet campaign.

The 50-second slot features Jane McDonald, a 48-year-old victim of multiple sclerosis. The actress Zöe Wanamaker, vice-president of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, provided a commentary.

John Oliver, general secretary of the society, said yesterday it had faced initial problems finding a cinema prepared to show the advertisement, but the Odeon West End previewed it and agreed. The advertisement was shown for a week beginning with the premiere of The Full Monty and ending two days ago.

Earlier, The Everyman Cinema, in Hampstead, north London, ran the advertisement, which has a 15 Certificate from the British Board of Film Classification and the approval of the Cinema Advertising Association.

Mr Oliver said the society had been approached by executives from the advertising agency Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper who said they supported the society's aims and offered to make an advertisement free of charge.

"Naturally we jumped at the opportunity. We supplied Zöe Wanamaker and Jane McDonald who is one of our members," he said.

Miss McDonald, who has also had breast cancer, is pictured with her dog. Miss Wanamaker gives a list of symptoms and observes that it would be kind to end the misery. It appears that she is referring to the dog. But the camera pulls back to reveal Miss McDonald. Simon Haynes, art director of the agency, said: "We wanted to get people thinking without hectoring or preaching."

Mr Oliver said that at first the agency had attempted to make the bookings but he had taken over. Eventually the Odeon saw the advert and agreed to screen it.

"The aim of the advertisement was to point out that people should have a choice. There have not been any complaints," he said.

An accompanying leaflet campaign was planned for Wednesday, this week but because of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales the society did not proceed.

"We had intended to issue leaflets as well but we did not think it would be appropriate and it was too late to stop the advertisement. But we hope to try again in a month or two," Mr Oliver said.

The leaflets say: "Jane has a good life. Will you help to ensure that she has a good death?"

Prof Jack Scarisbrick, chairman of the Life organisation said yesterday that the advertisement was "disgraceful"and should not have been allowed.

"The British Board of Film Classification is a notoriously sloppy body and while I am appalled that this has been allowed I am not entirely surprised. What the Voluntary Euthanasia Society does not acknowledge in that in accepting a right to die they are imposing the duty of killing on to someone else. All the responsible bodies world wide which have had time to think and consider these matters fully all realise that this is not a straightforward issue. It is a bit of modern liberalism - a nasty if not sinister departure from traditional medical ethics," he said.

1 August 1997: GP backs doctor in euthanasia row
17 July 1997: Judge grants crash victim 'right to die'
4 July 1997: Doctors oppose moves to make euthanasia legal

 

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