U.K. TV to Air Assisted Suicide Film

Craig Ewert

(CBS/AP) A British television channel plans to show a film about an American man who commits assisted suicide at a Swiss clinic, reigniting debate over an issue that strongly divides opinion in Britain. Opponents called the broadcast a ratings-grabbing stunt.

Feelings about the issue ran so high Wednesday that Prime Minister Gordon Brown was asked about the program in Parliament.

The 2006 suicide of 59-year-old Craig Ewert was to be shown Wednesday evening in a documentary on the Sky Real Lives digital channel.

Ewert had degenerative motor neuron disease and died at a clinic in Zurich run by the assisted suicide group Dignitas, with his wife Mary at his side. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland in some circumstances and organizations there provide suicide services.

Ewert lived in Britain, where assisted suicide and euthanasia are banned.

The film by Oscar-winning documentary maker John Zaritsky has been screened at film festivals around the world and was shown on Canadian television last year. But it was attracting controversy in Britain, where previous programs on the topic have stopped short of showing the actual moment of death.

Originally called "The Suicide Tourist," the film has been titled "Right to Die?" for its British broadcast.