Jersey edges nearer to state-sponsored euthanasia

Parliamentarians in Jersey have pushed forward plans to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia on the island.

State Members decided, by 31 votes to 15, to request the Health Minister to bring forward draft legislation on so-called ‘assisted dying’ to the Assembly next year.

Under the proposals, over-18s who have been resident on Jersey for at least a year would be able to request to be killed in cases of terminal conditions giving rise to “unbearable suffering that cannot be alleviated”.

Lethal drugs

Adults with a terminal physical condition would be eligible if they could 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.

Deputies and Constables also considered whether those diagnosed with an “incurable physical condition” should be permitted to either self-administer or be administered lethal drugs by a doctor, but they voted against this by 27 to 19.

If draft legislation is passed by the States Assembly, assisted suicide and euthanasia could be available in Jersey before the end of 2027.

‘Sanctity of life’

Deputy Sir Philip Bailhache warned that the legislation would not be “conferring a right to die”, but giving “a privilege to licensed medical people to bring the life of others to an end, or to kill people, to put it more bluntly”.

He stated that advancing the proposal would suggest to disabled people “that their lives may not be as valuable as those of able-bodied people” and forge a society “that does not care enough about vulnerable people”.

Also speaking against the proposal, Constable of St Saviour Kevin Lewis feared that, “Once the principle is established, it would only be a matter of time before it’s turned up one notch here and one notch there to include many, many people.”

And Deputy David Warr reminded the Assembly that “the sanctity of life should always be given primacy”.

Isle of Man

Manx politicians have been warned that their plans to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide on the island are unworkable.

Palliative medicine consultant Baroness Finlay of Llandaff and consultant nephrologist Dr David Randall said MHK Alex Allinson’s Assisted Dying Bill was complex and dangerous.

Speaking to Manx Radio, Dr Randall said the Bill marked a huge ethical shift, such that doctors could “actually act to shorten life”. He advised the Isle of Man not to go ahead with the plans, but rather to invest in palliative care.

Also see:


‘Better Off Dead?’: BBC puts spotlight on disabled opposition to assisted suicide

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