Assisted dying doctor tells Liz Carr that it's her 'best work' in Better Off Dead

Liz Carr meets Dr Ellen Wiebe who has been involved with more than 400 MAID deaths

Liz Carr goes to Canada in Better Off Dead. (BBC)
Liz Carr goes to Canada in Better Off Dead?. (BBC)

An assisted dying clinic doctor told Liz Carr that it's her "best work" in BBC documentary film Better Off Dead?.

Assisted dying is banned in the UK; it can be prosecuted as murder or manslaughter. Celebrities and politicians have spoken out in support of changing the law, including Esther Rantzen who is terminally ill with lung cancer and she had joined Dignitas, which is a Swiss non-profit organisation that provides physician-assisted dying.

In Better Off Dead?, Carr said assisted dying is terrifying for disabled people and she's made the documentary to give her voice to "the other side" of the debate. One of the most shocking moments of the documentary film took viewers behind the scenes of an assisted dying clinic in Canada.

Eye-opening scenes show Carr meeting with Dr Ellen Wiebe in her office where people can choose to end their lives with MAID (Medical Assisted In Dying). Assisted dying became legal in Canada in 2016. However, Dr Wiebe had no qualms telling Carr that it is the best work she has done as a doctor.

Liz Carr met with the clinician Dr Ellen Wiebe in Canada. (BBC screengrab)
Liz Carr met with the clinician Dr Ellen Wiebe in Canada. (BBC screengrab)

In one poignant moment, Carr asked her: "Do you love your job?"

Dr Ellen Wiebe doesn't mind sharing that she does, in fact she said it's the "best" work she has done. "I love my job," Dr Wiebe said. "I've always loved being a doctor but - and I've delivered over a 1,000 babies and I took care of families - but this is the very best work I've ever done."

She explained why saying: "People ask me why? And I think well, doctors like grateful patients and nobody is more grateful than my patients now and their families."

The Canadian clinician revealed she had been involved with more than 400 MAID deaths in Canada. "I still run a contraception and abortion clinic in addition to my MAID work," she said.

Liz Carr raises questions about assisted dying. (BBC)
Liz Carr raises questions about assisted dying. (BBC)

At the start of the chat, Dr Wiebe said "most people" want to die in their own homes but sometimes they choose to end their life in her office. "There are people who don't feel comfortable dying at home," she said.

"They don't want their spouse to have to deal with their memory of them dying in their own. So then they come here. This is a recliner, people recline here. They can snuggle up with their loved ones if they want. It's a good place for some people."

Better Off Dead? revealed that any MAID applicant must fill in a form that is signed by an independent witness, somebody who is not in the will or a direct caregiver. The doctor said the main reason that people opt for MAID is because they "desperately want control".

Liz Carr pictured at the BAFTAs.
Liz Carr pictured at the BAFTAs. (Getty)

Carr told Yahoo about the "chilling" reality of an assisted dying clinic and she revealed filming with the doctor was even more surreal because of their off-camera conversations.

She said: "What's funny is that in between filming and having these intense conversations, it was just so normal. We might have strongly different views but, apart from that, we're two disabled women existing in the world, and we might want advice about the best restaurants in Vancouver and what wheelchair we've got. It made it even more surreal."

Reflecting, Carr hopes the documentary will make people think and start having conversations about assisted dying in different ways. Of course, she admitted she's nervous too. "You push it out into the world like you birth it," she said. "So far it's been a really open and a warm, response [from private screenings]... It makes up for all those days where it was tough or we didn't know how to do it or delayed."

She said: "I'm scared of it coming out and what people might think. There will be people who it will change, people who will start talking about it in ways they never did. There'll be people who will go, 'But you're denying me my rights and my choices', and I understand that too."

Watch Better Off Dead? on on BBC iPlayer.

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