Q. British author Sir Terry Pratchett recently presented a BBC documentary called “Choosing To Die,” about assisted suicide. Pratchett, the bestselling author of the “Discworld” series of fantasy novels, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008. He is a patron of Dying In Dignity, a group that lobbies for the laws in the UK to be changed to give terminally ill people control over ending their lives, and has said, “I believe everybody possessed of a debilitating and incurable disease should be allowed to pick the hour of their death.”
The documentary kicked up a storm in the UK by broadcasting the final moments of Peter Smedley, a 71-year-old motor-neurone disease sufferer who traveled to a clinic in Switzerland run by Dignitas, an assisted-suicide group. Smedley is shown drinking a cocktail of barbiturates while his wife sits next to him. Although the camera cuts away from his face, his final words — “My wife’s very good at putting me to sleep just by rubbing my hands. Be strong, my darling.”— are clear.