Jersey Government to research assisted dying

20th February 2019

Jersey’s Council of Ministers has agreed to carry out research into assisted dying.

It’s after proposals to introduce assisted dying in Guernsey were defeated in the States last year.

Following a States of Jersey petition, signed by more than 1800 islanders, Ministers decided to look into the legal, ethical and practical issues surrounding it.

The investigation will bring together research already done by other jurisdictions on issues like patient protection and how to decide if someone is eligible.

Once Ministers have looked into the topic they will then seek the views of Jersey residents.

The island’s Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, says:

‘This is a sensitive and challenging subject, and we need to understand not only the ethical, legal and social consequences, but also any potential ramifications on our relationship with the UK.

‘When the Health Minister brought this matter to the Council of Ministers for consideration, we agreed we would draw on the extensive work already done in other parts of the British Isles, and develop a clear view on the issue before consulting islanders.

‘Once we have a better understanding of the research already carried out by neighbouring jurisdictions, we will proceed to a public consultation on the options and their implications.’

National campaign group, Dignity in Dying, has supported Jersey’s decision to look into the subject.

Tom Davies, from the group, says:

‘We know that assisted dying laws can be crafted to protect vulnerable people and offer dying people, in their last days or weeks of life, the option of having an assisted death.

‘If 100 million people in the USA, Canada and Australia can be given the right to die on their own terms, it surely can’t be beyond the wit of politicians whether in Westminster, Holyrood or Jersey to draft a similar law.

‘For too long, lawmakers in Britain have shied away from giving their dying citizens this choice.

‘I hope this research will look beyond the British Isles to those countries that have passed safeguarded laws and see that safe, legal assisted dying is not only a possibility but a moral imperative.’

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