A Roman Catholic Bishop has called on the people of Jersey to overturn plans to legalise assisted suicide on the island.
In a pastoral letter, Bishop Philip Egan appealed to parishioners and “all people of good will” to back good palliative care for the terminally ill rather than the opening of “death-clinics”.
Last year, the Jersey Parliament became the first in the British Isles to vote in favour of allowing those over 18 to be helped to kill themselves, or be killed by a doctor, in cases of terminal illness or “unbearable suffering”.
Bishop Egan wrote: “We must not yield to the temptation to apply rapid solutions, moved by a false compassion or by criteria of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.”
He continued: “Let there be no death-clinics in Jersey.”
The Bishop of Portsmouth, who has oversight of Roman Catholic congregations in the Channel Islands, also said: “Don’t let Jersey become a destination for death and suicide tourism.”
He added: “Assisted suicide is incompatible with a doctor’s role as healer. It would be difficult or impossible to control. It would pose serious societal risks.”
In a public engagement exercise over the proposed legislation in March and April, the most frequently raised concern was the fear that vulnerable people would be coerced into requesting assisted suicide.
The consultation also revealed that only a small number of healthcare professionals on Jersey are willing to kill their patients.
Respondents also called for robust protections for medical professionals who conscientiously object to assisted suicide.
If legislation is passed by the States Assembly, assisted suicide and euthanasia could be available in Jersey before the end of 2024.
Earlier this year, the House of Lords rejected the latest attempt to legalise assisted suicide in England and Wales.
Peers voted by 179 votes to 145 against an amendment to the Health and Care Bill which sought to allow terminally ill adults to get help from doctors to kill themselves.
MSP Liam McArthur’s plans to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland are set to be delayed after an “unprecedented level of response” to his public consultation.
Since 1997, proposals for assisted suicide-related laws have been stopped on twelve occasions by UK parliamentarians.