David Attenborough backs assisted dying, slams Church

UK broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has given qualified support to assisted dying and has criticised the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception.

Speaking on the BBC’s Costing the Earth programme, Sir David was asked if he supported the right to die.

“I suppose I do really, but [only] if you could solve all the problems of dealing with the misuse of such a right,” he said.

He added: “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.”

Asked if he would consider ending his own life, he said: “I think if I was compos mentis and I was really having a wretched life.”

His comments came two months after UK MPs overwhelmingly voted against changing the law to allow doctors to help terminally ill people end their lives.

Sir David acknowledged the complexity of the subject, saying: “These issues of how long people should live are very complicated and involves not only medical issues but philosophical issues.”

The 89-year-old broadcaster also repeated his concern about rapid population growth, pointed out that the number of people on the planet had tripled since he started making TV programmes in the 1950s.

Asked what message he would deliver to world leaders due to gather at the upcoming climate summit in Paris, Sir David said: “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.’ If all the women in the world had that choice I’m fairly convinced that the birthrate would fall.”

He said he would have no hesitation in delivering that message to the Pope.

Asked if the Catholic Church had got it wrong on contraception, Sir David said: “Yes I do. I think it is an extraordinary blind spot.”

In 2013, Sir David said of Africa: “They are too many people for a too little piece of land. That’s what it’s about. And we are blinding ourselves.”


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