Thursday, December 4, 2014

Liz Carr: Silent Witness, the Right to Die and the perceived value of people with disabilities

This article is part of the interview by Hannah Dunleavy with disability leader, actress and comedian, Liz Carr, that was published in Standard Issue Magazine on December 3, 2014. 
Liz Carr currently stars in the BBC TV show Silent Witness.

Liz Carr: Not So Silent Witness comments on assisted suicide:

... With Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill at the committee stage, we can’t not talk about this vision of the Right to Die.

“It puts too much power in hands of the medical profession. I’m not religious, I’m not anti-choice. And it’s not that I’m not compassionate, I hope.

“What concerns me are doctors are already a very closed shop. You will find doctors that will help you and doctors who won’t, and that’s happening now. But it will be much harder to challenge.

“Currently, where people have had assistance to end their life, it often will go through the court, so it’s there for people to see what’s going on. And I feel better with those safeguards.

“I fear we’ve so devalued certain groups of people – ill people, disabled people, older people – that I don’t think it’s in their best interests to enshrine in law the right of doctors to kill certain people.

“I think it will begin with terminally ill people and then that definition will widen. It’s not like I think people will be taking granny to the chambers. It’s much more subtle. It’s almost like constructive dismissal where so many things are happening to you – your benefits have been cut, you’re in pain, you’re ill but the home help can’t come anymore. Or your family are tired from looking after you and you don’t want to see them suffer. There are so many reasons that all come together. For some people, if we put in the right supports, would they still want to die?

Liz Carr as Clarissa Mullery in Silent Witness
"The phrase dying with dignity has been synonymous with the people who support this legislation. I don’t want people to die in pain or without dignity, I think people can have that with decent healthcare and medical care, where we plough money into palliative care.

“Hospices aren’t government funded they’re privately funded and we need to look at that and giving people the choice to die how they want. And if there’s still a group of people who aren’t happy, then we ask ‘are we in a position to provide for that?’”

That seems a good enough place to stop, so I pack away my dead dictaphone, my pen and notebook, and I make a quick trip to the bathroom before I leave.

When I emerge, Carr’s waiting for me. We should probably mention, she says, that although things may have improved, it was only a fluke meeting at a bus stop that got her an agent. Two years after joining a major BBC drama. I wave goodbye to my second lost quote of the day.

There’s still a long way to go, was the point.

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