The Commission was independent from Dignity in Dying, and because of this their secretariat Demos provided media support to the Commissioners. This didn’t stop the media requests pouring in to our press office (me and Mylinh our Press Assistant) though. We had a huge variety of requests ranging from national media outlets wanting to talk to Sir Terry Pratchett about why he chose to part fund the Commission, to local radio wanting to talk to Dignity in Dying more broadly, or to someone from their region who has been affected by the issue. We couldn’t have achieved the profile we did on Thursday, or indeed any time the issue is in the media, if it weren’t for the dedication of our spokespeople – so many thanks to all who contributed. Sir Terry gave back to back interviews from the minute he arrived in London until he collapsed into a comfy chair for a well deserved drink mid-evening. He then spent the night reflecting on his experience and wrote a blog for the Huffington Post the following day.
As well as representing a significant step forward for the campaign to legalise assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults, Thursday also served as a reminder that as long as we don’t have sufficient choice or control at the end of life we will have media debate on the issue. The vast majority of the general public want to see the law changed, the Commission found that an assisted dying law would be safe and workable, supporters of change are willing to stick their heads above the parapet and tell their often harrowing stories about how the current situation is unworkable and those who oppose change will always be willing to speak up about why they believe they should continue to be allowed to impose their views on the rest of us. Where there is debate, real life experiences and new research, there are journalists.