Jersey Assembly to discuss proposed right to die law

Jersey’s States Assembly will meet today to discuss proposals from the Citizens’ Jury to change the law for adult islanders with terminal or incurable conditions who have a clear and settled wish to end their lives. Channel Islands Humanists, part of Humanists UK, campaigns to legalise assisted dying for both the terminally ill and incurably suffering. It has called for Assembly members to support the proposals.

The proposal being discussed reflects recommendations made by Jersey’s Citizens’ Jury on the subject. Its final report followed an extensive inquiry earlier in the year and echoed recommendations made by Humanists UK and Channel Islands Humanists in oral evidence sessions.

A recent poll found that as many as 9 in 10 people in Jersey support the proposed new law, matching levels of support for assisted dying in Britain. Assisted dying is already available for people with both terminal and incurable conditions in countries like Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. These laws all have strong safeguards which protect the vulnerable and these safeguards helped inform the decisions and recommendations put forward to the States Assembly.

An amendment tabled by Deputy Kirsten Morel will also be considered which would delay the debate on proposals to take place by October 2022, with draft legislation available for debate by the end of March 2023. The amendment seeks to add an extra stage to the debate to focus on loopholes and safeguards.

The States Meeting commencing today will debate a range of issues including assisted dying. The meeting may run on beyond today due to the number of matters addressed.

Channel Islands Humanists’ Dave Crocker commented:

‘Jersey must make this important reform to enable every citizen to have a good death, respecting the autonomy and dignity of those with incurable or terminal suffering.

‘Any assisted dying law must contain strong safeguards, but the international evidence from countries where assisted dying is legal shows that safeguards can be effective. As humanists, we respect the rights of an individual to control their own life, and their own death’.