Guernsey to consider legalising assisted suicide

Guernsey is set to hold a vote on whether or not to legalise assisted suicide.

If the motion is passed by politicians in May, an 18-month consultation period will then take place on the legal framework.

Campaigners across the UK have previously warned of the dangerous consequences of legalising the practice.

Voted down

The proposal will allow people to kill themselves with assistance from a doctor, and asks the parliament to consider issues such as conscientious objection and a requirement to be terminally ill.

Guernsey’s chief minister, Gavin St Pier, is backing the proposal, claiming it is “about giving people choice”.

Guernsey has the freedom to pass its own laws but the UK Government can intervene if there are ramifications for the UK. The matter would then be brought before the Privy Council.

A proposal to legalise assisted suicide on the island was rejected in 2004.

‘Deeply flawed’

Dr Peter Saunders, of Care Not Killing, said that legalising assisted suicide would place an intolerable burden on vulnerable people.

“The bottom line is…if you change the law to allow it, you inevitably end up putting pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives out of fear of being a financial or emotional burden upon others,” he commented.

He also said: “These proposals are deeply flawed and, as we have seen in the tiny number of countries that have introduced similar laws, are open to abuse and incremental extension”.

Assisted suicide remains illegal in the UK. A Bill to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales was soundly defeated in the House of Commons in 2015 by 330 votes to 118.