Did you watch last night's dramatised documentary on BBC1 television with the above title? Anne Turner killed herself through assisted suicide in Zurich in January 2006. She had been suffering from a rare and incurable wasting neurological disease known commonly as PSP. Like her late husband she was a medical doctor, and had also seen him horribly destroyed by a similar illness. Doubly cursed as Turner was by the knowledge of the fate that awaited her, she was fearful not of death but the prospect of years of ever-increasing suffering.
As we saw in this powerfully moving drama, starring the wonderfully talented actress Julie Walters as Dr. Anne Turner, the problem was persuading her children to understand her choice, and then finding out how to make the preparations for an act that continues to be illegal in the UK. All of which might sound remorselessly grim, but the quick-footed emotional spins of Frank McGuinnes's endlessly compassionate script together with Julie Walters's doughtily heartfelt performance brought a surprising degree of warmth to the subject.
The most powerful scenes were those in which Anne dealt with her three grown-up children, as they go from shock and bewilderment at their mother's wish for death, to achieving a courageous acceptence of her desires, managing to override their instincts to keep alive someone they love.
It was not a finely tuned debate about the morality of euthanasia, but an impassioned dramatisation of one woman's fight to choose death with dignity. Whether or not you agree with the Turners' choice, and as a Christian I do not, it cannot be denied that last night's superb film will definitely add to a debate that is sure to continue until such time as the law on assisted suicide is reassessed in the UK.
In my opinion Julie Walters deserves at least a top BAFTA award for her role as Dr. Anne Turner and I shall be sorely disappointed if she is not honoured for a truly great and memorable performance.
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