Former Paralympic star Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has warned Guernsey’s lawmakers not to legislate for assisted suicide.
Tomorrow, Guernsey’s parliament will debate a motion to allow islanders to kill themselves with assistance from a doctor.
But 16-time Paralympic medal winner Baroness Grey-Thompson says the proposal is dangerous and risks making disabled people “collateral damage”.
“The simple truth is that there is no safe law for assisted suicide and disabled people are particularly vulnerable if such a law is passed”, the Baroness said.
“Many people think I have no quality of life, that I’m bound to be a burden to those around me. If there was a state approved means to obtain assistance to end life, on a bad day, or on a low ebb, it really wouldn’t take much for disabled people to consider that the people they love might be better off without them.”
“I’m so glad that ‘choice’ is not available to me, as I’m sure is the case for the vast majority of disabled or vulnerable islanders.”
The motion also asks the parliament to consider issues such as conscientious objection and a requirement to be terminally ill. If it is passed, an 18-month consultation period will then take place on the legal framework.
But Michael Tanguy MBE, Chairman of Le Platon, Guernsey’s oldest residential care home, is also warning about the dangers of legalising assisted suicide.
“We have grave concerns for the safeguarding and protection of the most needy in our society. Experience would suggest that they may feel coerced and anxious by any change in the law.
“It has been shown in other jurisdictions that there can be a slippery slope with the erosion of the limits on euthanasia.”
Guernsey’s Policy and Resources Committee has refused to support the motion.
Gavin St Pier, Guernsey’s chief minister, is backing it, 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.