Jersey has launched a 13-week public consultation on its proposals to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia on the island.
It follows a previous public engagement exercise on the principles of the issue, after the Jersey Parliament became the first in the British Isles to vote to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide last year.
Under the proposals, Jersey residents aged 18 or over would be able to request to be killed in cases of physical terminal conditions, or “an incurable physical condition, that is giving rise to unbearable suffering that cannot be alleviated in a manner that the person deems tolerable”.
Adults with a terminal physical condition would have to be “reasonably expected to die within six months”, or twelve months if it was a “neurodegenerative” disease. Death could not be requested on the basis of mental conditions alone.
Medics with a conscientious objection to the procedures would be protected from participating directly, but there would be no protections for those engaged in related activities such as administrative tasks.
The proposals currently apply only to adults, but the consultation paper says the law should allow the Assembly to lower the age limit “if, at some point in the future, they determine it was the correct course of action”.
The Institute’s Ciarán Kelly called the proposals “dangerous and vague”.
“The discussion of expanding the law in the future to include children highlights that it is impossible to establish suitable safeguards once the law is liberalised.
“The proposals endanger the vulnerable and deny the value of every person as an individual made in the image of God.”
If legislation is passed by the States Assembly, assisted suicide and euthanasia could be available in Jersey before the end of 2025.
In Scotland, Liam McArthur MSP recently confirmed he had secured the right to introduce his Assisted Dying (Scotland) Bill to Holyrood, after it gained sufficient cross-party support from parliamentarians.
McArthur’s plan would allow anyone aged 16 or over who is deemed terminally ill and has been resident in Scotland for 12 months to receive help to take their own lives.
More than a quarter of MSPs backed the proposal, with representatives from all the major parties among those in support. Draft legislation is expected to be presented to Holyrood early next year.