Play: Bodies by Vivienne Franzmann

20 February 2017


“We should have brought a gift.”

“We’ve brought a gift. It’s called 22 thousand pounds.”

Purchased from Russia. Developed in India. Delivered to the UK.

A global transaction over nine months that offers ‘a lifetime of happiness’ to all involved.

“What do you think will happen to a baby girl in India that nobody wants?”

Vivienne Franzmann’s previous work at the Royal Court includes Pests and The Witness. Her new play Bodies will be directed by Jude Christian (Lela & Co.).

Wed 5 Jul – Sat 12 Aug

Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, Royal Court Theatre

Tickets from £12. General booking opens on Wed 22 Feb at 10am.


News: assisted suicide in Switzerland on the KCLMEL blog

12 June 2011

The law and practice of assisted suicide in Switzerland will be much discussed this week following the broadcast of Terry Pratchett’s documentary. Earlier posts have discussed the Swiss government’s plans for reform of the law, and a recent court decision allowing the defence of necessity in a case of euthanasia (termination of life on request).

The DPP’s policy on prosecuting cases of assisted suicide, including cases in which the assisted suicide takes place in Switzerland, has been discussed in a series of posts, the links to the most recent of which can be found in this post on the Caractacus Downes case. Earlier posts on the interim policy and the Purdy case can be found by scrolling through the posts tagged ‘Switzerland’.

TV: Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die

7 June 2011

BBC Two, Monday 13th June, 9pm-10pm, followed by Choosing to Die: Newsnight Debate, BBC Two, Monday 13th June, 10pm-10:30pm

From BBC News: “British author Sir Terry Pratchett is to participate in a BBC Two documentary about assisted suicide, it has been announced. The Discworld writer will travel to a Dignitas clinic in Switzerland with a 71-year-old who suffers from motor neurone disease. Sir Terry, who was diagnosed with a form of Alzheimer’s in 2008, said he was “a firm believer in assisted death” and wanted to learn more about it. …

“I believe everybody possessed of a debilitating and incurable disease should be allowed to pick the hour of their death,” Sir Terry said. “And I wanted to know more about Dignitas in case I ever wanted to go there myself.”

Last year, a UK inquiry into the issue of assisted dying was launched with funding from Sir Terry [the Commission on Assisted Dying].

The BBC’s commissioning editor for documentaries, Charlotte Moore, said: “Assisted death is an important topic of debate in the UK, and this is a chance for the BBC Two audience to follow Sir Terry as he wrestles with the difficult issues that many across Britain are also faced with.”

The documentary will also see the writer explore how different European countries deal with the issue.”

In the Newsnight special debate which follows, “Jeremy Paxman talks to Terry Pratchett about his documentary, and a panel of studio guests debate the issues surrounding assisted death.” (from the Radio Times)

Conference: The Europeanisation of healthcare

2 February 2011

Thursday 24 February 2011, 1.15 pm – 6.00 pm

Venue: Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, LONDON, W1G 0AE

This meeting is organised by the RSM Open Section in association with the European Association of Health Law and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London.

CPD: 3 credits (applied for)

Register now for this interdisciplinary afternoon meeting exploring current trends and practical realities in co-operative public health, individual healthcare and the medico-legal dimensions to these developments.

Speakers are figures directly involved in this Europeanisation of healthcare, including Dr Joana Namorado (EU), Professor Alberto Costa (Milan), Professor Jean McHale (Birmingham), Professor David Kerr (Oxford), Professor Mark McCarthy (UCL) and Alex Denoon (Lawford Davies).

The programme will examine:

  • Patient mobility; how the NHS interacts with the European dimension and reactions of healthcare consumers and policy makers
  • The need for a ‘common market’ in medical and healthcare research
  • Current regulatory issues and considerations of best practice from the medico-legal perspective


Workshop: Bodies across Borders: The global circulation of body parts, medical tourists and medical professionals

28 October 2010

Fondation Brocher, Switzerland, 15 – 17 December 2010

The fields of medicine and healthcare are being transformed by new communications and biomedical technologies, which have facilitated marked increases in the global circulation of body parts, patients and medical professionals across national borders. These movements often echo other movements of capital and resources, traveling from rural to urban areas, from poor to rich, and from the Global South to the Global North. These movements also raise a number of specific concerns depending on the kind of body (body part, patient or professional) circulating. Consequently academic and policy debates tend to focus on particular issues and perspectives with little opportunity for scholars, policy makers and professionals in medicine and healthcare to discuss their experiences and share insights into the different ways in which bodies cross national borders.

This workshop will bring together researchers working on different kinds of bodily circulations within the global healthcare and medical environments to explore common themes, concerns and issues, including:

–       The underlying structural and economic inequalities between nations and peoples which drive much of the trade in bodily commodities and movements of medical tourists and medical professionals.

–       The impacts of these movements on the health care industry of the countries that supply medical professionals, healthcare services and body-parts (usually in the Global South) and the countries that receive medical professionals, services and body parts (usually in the Global North).

–       The challenge of reconciling the practices, standards and expectations of medical professionals and patients from different countries and healthcare traditions and the question of how and to what extent these circulations of healthcare workers, medical tourists and bodily commodities should be internationally monitored and regulated.

The one-and-a-half day workshop will be organised thematically, with three separate sessions each focusing on a different kind of circulation. This will then be followed by a round-table discussion, focused on the key research questions outlined above, in order to identify shared themes and connections, and possibilities for future collaborations and research relationships.

The workshop is organised by members of the Health, Place and Society research theme, based in the Department of Geography, Queen Mary University of London and is sponsored by the Fondation Brocher. The workshop will be hosted by the Fondation Brocher, at their centre in Hermance, Switzerland.

A workshop programme is available here.

There are currently places remaining, so if you’d like to register and have not already done so, please contact Beth Greenhough ( for a registration form, outlining your interest in the workshop. The deadline for registrations is the 30 October 2010.

There are opportunities at the event for participants to display research posters. If you are interested in doing so, please contact Beth Greenhough (

If you are seeking funding, there are two forms of bursaries we can offer:

(1) The Fondation Brocher has offered a small number of bursaries to cover the registration fees for PhD students or those on a low income who wish to attend. to apply for this participants should attach a brief (1 -side A4 letter) to their registration form outlining their case for support.

(2) We are also now able to offer two bursaries of £250(UK) towards travel and accommodation costs for participants who are based in low income countries in the Global South. These will be allocated on a competitive basis by a panel who will review all applications. If you wish to apply for these, you need to send a 1-side A4 letter outlining
(a) your interest in the workshop and (b) reasons for seeking funding, and a short CV to Beth Greenhough (

The deadline for applications is the 30th October, with decisions by 10th November.

Conference call for proposals: The Globalization of Health Care: Legal and Ethical Challenges

20 October 2010

May 20-21, 2011

The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, in conjunction with the Harvard University Program on Ethics and Health, is pleased to announce plans for our annual conference, this year entitled: “The Globalization of Health Care: Legal and Ethical Challenges.” The one and a half day event will take place May 20 and 21st at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


The increasing globalization of health care and its inputs provides new challenges for health law and bioethics. This conference will bring together leading scholars and policy-makers to discuss several overlapping and diverging instances of this globalization, to try and develop new strategies and paradigms.

We currently envision having panels with papers on the following topics, but this list is not exhaustive, such that participants are welcome to submit for review proposals on topics related to the conferences themes but not covered by this list:

Medical Tourism for Services Legal or Illegal in the Patient’s Home Country (E.g., Fertility Tourism, Death Tourism, Organ Tourism)
Medical Migration (Brain Drain)
Medical Repatriation
Parallel Drug Pricing, and Arbitrage in Pharmaceuticals across Borders
Research Tourism and Multi-Regional Clinical Trials
Policing Transnational Infectious Diseases and International Vaccine Development


Proposals for presentation topics are being accepted until October 25, 2010.

News and Comment: first application of DPP’s Final Policy on assisted suicide

19 March 2010

In the first case in which the DPP’s Final Policy on Prosecutions for Assisted Suicide has been applied, the DPP has decided that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute Caractacus Downes, the son of Sir Edward and Lady Joan Downes.

In July 2009, the conductor Sir Edward and his wife Lady Joan ended their lives at the Dignitas clinic in Zurich. Sir Edward was described as “almost blind and increasingly deaf” in a statement released by the couple’s children, while Lady Joan was described as “terminally ill”.

Following a police investigation, senior Crown Prosecution Service prosecutors determined that no public interest determination was necessary in relation to the couple’s daughter, Boudicca — who lives in Rome and met her parents and brother in Zurich — as “there is no evidence that she undertook any act in England and Wales that could have assisted her parents in committing suicide.”

The CPS found that the couple’s son, Caractacus, had booked a hotel room in Switzerland for his parents before leaving England with them and accompanying them to Zurich.

“We have considered carefully whether these acts can properly be characterised as assistance for the purposes of section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961. Whilst we recognise that some may take a different view, we are satisfied that, taken together, such acts are capable of constituting assistance. As Mr Downes fully accepts that he undertook those acts, there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction for an offence contrary to section 2(1) of the Suicide Act 1961 in accordance with the Full Code Test, as set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors (the Code).”

Thus the CPS then considered whether such a prosecution would be in the public interest, applying the factors from the Final Policy:

“With regard to factors tending in favour of prosecution, it is clear that both Sir Edward and Lady Downes were able to undertake the acts that Mr Downes undertook on their behalf.

However, with regard to factors tending against prosecution, it is also clear that Sir Edward and Lady Downes had each reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide.

In the context of those decisions and the steps taken by Sir Edward and Lady Downes to give effect to their decisions, the actions of Mr Downes, although sufficient to come within the definition of the offence, were very much only of minor assistance.

The evidence and information available indicates that Mr Downes was wholly motivated by compassion.

The police have confirmed that Mr Downes reported his parents’ suicide to them through his solicitor and that he fully assisted them in their enquiries into the circumstances of his parents’ suicide and his part in providing assistance.

There is information to suggest that Mr Downes has benefited financially from the death of his parents as a result of their wills. It might be said, as a result, that it is difficult to conclude that he was wholly motivated by compassion in giving his parents the assistance that he did.

The relationship between compassion and financial gain is considered in paragraph 44 of the Policy. There, it is recognised that a suspect may gain some benefit from the resultant suicide of the victims. The Policy states that the critical element to consider is the motive behind the suspect’s act. If it is shown that compassion was the only driving force behind his actions, the fact that the suspect may gain some benefit will not usually be treated as a factor tending in favour of prosecution.

Having reviewed all the available information, we have concluded that this is a case where the only driving force behind Mr Downes’ actions was compassion. Accordingly, we do not regard the fact that he stands to gain financially in accordance with the terms of his parents’ wills as a factor tending in favour of prosecution in this case.

Having assessed the public interest factors in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Policy for Prosecutors in respect of Cases of Encouraging or Assisting Suicide, we are sure that the public interest factors tending against prosecution outweigh those tending in favour. As a result, consent has not been given to the bringing of a prosecution against Mr Downes for his part in the suicide of his parents.”

The decision is unsurprising, given the large number of similar cases in which no prosecution has been brought. It is interesting, though, that no mention was made by the DPP of factors 4 and 5 against prosecution:

4. the suspect had sought to dissuade the victim from taking the course of action which resulted in his or her suicide;

5. the actions of the suspect may be characterised as reluctant encouragement or assistance in the face of a determined wish on the part of the victim to commit suicide;

As I have recently written in the Solicitors Journal, these two factors

“encapsulate an idealised scenario that involves an unwilling ‘suspect’ and a determined ‘victim’ . . .

No reasons for the inclusion of these factors have been provided, although they were supported by two thirds of consultation respondents.

What if the suspect is fully supportive of the victim’s decision, recognising that the victim has reached his or her own decision and agreeing that it is the right course of action for him or her in the circumstances? Does this make prosecution more in the public interest than if the suspect is ‘reluctant’ and sought to ‘dissuade’ the victim? Factor 4 envisages the decision to seek assisted suicide as an unwise or irrational decision from which the person should be dissuaded, or at least suggests that this is how the ideal suspect should react to the decision. The inclusion of these two factors seems to prescribe a certain kind of emotional reaction on the part of a family member or friend to the victim’s condition; for example, not accepting a terminal diagnosis, or wanting the person to remain alive as long as possible.”

It will be worth watching whether these factors are omitted from further decisions on the application of the Final Policy. If they are applied in future cases, it will be interesting to see how this will work.

More difficult cases will undoubtedly emerge, including those where:

  • the assisted suicide takes place within England and Wales
  • the act of assistance is not a minor one
  • a healthcare professional has provided assistance

In relation to the latter, a decision is expected next month in the case of Dr. Michael Irwin, who paid for his patient Raymond Cutkelvin’s flight to Zurich. Dr. Irwin was also involved in the earlier assisted suicide of Patrick Kneen.