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Third of election candidates would back assisted dying

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AROUND a third of election candidates have said they would support legalising assisted dying in Jersey, after an Islander whose mother plans to end her life at a Dignitas clinic contacted all those vying for a seat in the States.

Tanya Tupper (21376004)

Tanya Tupper emailed all 77 candidates facing election asking whether they would support assisted dying after her mother, Roberta, told the JEP last week that she would travel to Switzerland to end her life.

Of the 34 who have responded, three said that they would oppose such a move. One said that he would be keen to discuss the matter with parishioners as soon as possible after the election and the remaining respondents indicated that they were in favour of assisted dying. Roberta was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer just over three years ago and was told that she had just six months to live.

Now Tanya is hoping to raise awareness of the issue and hopes the next States Assembly will place assisted dying high on their agenda. She added that she hoped to see fellow Islanders who support the move launch a petition and lobby the Island’s politicians to allow terminally ill people to die with dignity.

She said: ‘The most stressful part for my mum is that her plan is to go to Switzerland but she has to make sure she is well enough to travel. That might mean travelling long before she is necessarily in pain.

‘I don’t want my mum to suffer. I am a Christian, so that has been difficult, but I think humanity should come before religious belief and I think it is inhumane for people to suffer when they are terminally ill.’

She added that there had been a positive response from the candidates she had contacted, with only three opposing assisted dying – Chief Minister Ian Gorst, Senator Sarah Ferguson and St Clement candidate Lindsay Ash.

Tanya added that she expected some opposition from the church but believed that there should not be any conflcit and that assisted dying was not incompatible with religious teachings.

‘It affects everyone,’ she said. Everyone has known someone who has died from cancer.

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‘If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and you knew that you wouldn’t have to suffer the pain at the end, then that would significantly reduce the burden of anxiety.’

Her campaign comes as Guernsey’s States Members are due to debate legalising assisted dying for terminally ill islanders later this month. However, Guernsey Chief Minister Gavin St Pier’s proposals have been met with fierce criticism from church leaders.

Tanya added that she hoped their would be a consultation with medical professionals ahead of any debate on assisted dying in Jersey.

And she urged Islanders who feel strongly about the issue to vote for candidates who would support legalisation.

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‘We are electing them at the moment,’ Tanya said. ‘I have never voted before but now I feel strongly that I need to vote for politicians that are pro-assisted dying in order to pass this law.

‘If you feel strongly about this issue, even if you are not normally a voter, it is important to vote for candidates who support it.’

Tanya added that she was expecting to receive further responses from other candidates in the next few days.

WHO RESPONDED

Geoff Southern, Steve Ahier, Mary Ayling-Phillip, Guy de Faye, Julian Rogers, Anne Southern, Mark Baker, Cliff Le Clercq, Sean Creavy, Rowland Huelin, Tony Pike, Montfort Tadier, Garel Tucker, Samantha Morrison, Philip Renouf, Yann Mash, John McNichol, Linda Dodds, Geraint Jennings, Ant Lewis, Stevie Ocean, Steve Pallett, Tracey Vallois, Fiona O’Sullivan, Sam Mézec, Jaime Boylan, Tom Coles, Mary O’Keeffe, David Richardson, Nigel Philpott, Phil Maguire.

Senators Ian Gorst and Sarah Ferguson and Lindsay Ash were the only three to say that they would oppose to legalising assisted dying.

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