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Sir David Attenborough supports right to die 'if misuse problems can be solved'

Published 18/11/2015

Sir David Attenborough said he backed the right-to-die campaign
Sir David Attenborough said he backed the right-to-die campaign

Sir David Attenborough said he would consider voluntary euthanasia if his life became "wretched".

The veteran broadcaster told Radio 4's Costing The Earth programme on Tuesday that he backed the right-to-die campaign but queried the complicated moral arguments surrounding assisted dying.

Asked about whether he supported the right to die, he said: "I suppose I do really, but (only) if you could solve all the problems of dealing with the misuse of such a right."

The 89-year-old said he would consider voluntary euthanasia "if I was compos mentis and I was really having a wretched life".

He said: "When you see poor people, poor in the sense of having some wretched disease, pleading for their lives to be brought to an end, it's difficult to think that they don't deserve to have that right."

He added: "These issues of how long people should live are very complicated and involves not only medical issues but philosophical issues."

In September, MPs voted overwhelmingly against changing the law to allow doctors to help terminally ill patients end their life, the first Commons vote on the issue in 20 years.

The Life on Earth presenter also voiced his concerns about rapid population growth, noting that the number of people on earth had tripled since he began his television career in the 1950s with a negative impact on the climate and natural resources.

Asked what he would say to the world leaders who will gather in Paris next month for a UN summit on climate change, he replied: " I would say 'Please allow your population to choose whether they have bigger families or smaller families: to give the right to say how many children you will have to women, politically and economically and educationally and medically.'

"If all the women in the world had that choice I'm fairly convinced that the birthrate would fall."

Attenborough maintained he would deliver the same message to the pope without hesitation.

When questioned whether he thought the Catholic Church's stance on contraception was wrong, he said, "Yes, I certainly do. I think it is an extraordinary blind spot."

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