Jersey ‘better placed’ to bring in assisted dying than Guernsey
JERSEY is better placed legally than Guernsey to introduce assisted dying and the rejection of proposals by Sarnian politicians should not prevent a debate taking place here, a campaigner has said.
Tanya Tupper, whose mother Roberta plans to travel to Switzerland to end her life after being diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer, admitted that a ‘yes’ vote in Guernsey would have bolstered support in the Island but that she believed Jersey could still press ahead with a debate.
She contacted all election candidates in the build-up to polling day last week and asked if they would support legalising assisted dying. A total of 19 Members of the new Assembly said that they would. A further 11 did not respond, while 14 Members were elected unopposed and did not take part in the survey.
The debate was ignited after Guernsey Chief Minister Gavin St Pier lodged proposals to form an independent working party tasked with making recommendations about how assisted dying could work in the island.
That proposition was defeated by 24 votes to 14 last week.
However, Tanya believes that Jersey could learn from some of the mistakes made in the build-up to the Guernsey debate. She said that the recently passed mental health laws should alleviate some Islanders’ concerns over safeguarding.
‘I think Guernsey may have made a mistake in not being specific enough. What people fear is it not being just for terminal illnesses with a six-month prognosis.
‘Any debate here would need to be clear about its aims right from the beginning.
‘In Guernsey, they don’t have the mental health and capacity laws but we have already drawn them up, so we are a bit further along in that respect,’ she said.
She added that Guernsey had made significant progress despite the proposals being rejected and that the discussion was now on the table.
‘It would have been an advantage to us if Guernsey had gone for it,’ she said. ‘But I think we can learn from some of the mistakes made in the Guernsey debate and some of the progress they have made can help our campaign.’
Meanwhile, Deputy St Pier said it was a matter of ‘when rather than if’ assisted dying would be legalised in his island.
Speaking to the JEP, he said: ‘Those of us seeking to bring this debate were primarily motivated by the concern to establish what was right for our own community.
‘What has surprised us was the level of interest nationally and internationally. Clearly this is an issue which is very much in the minds of many people elsewhere. I’m not surprised it has caught the attention of people in Jersey.’
In 2015, 82 per cent of people who responded to a survey by the national campaign charity Dignity in Dying were in favour of the legalisation of assisted dying.
Deputy St Pier added that his intention was not to raise the issue nationally but that he had ‘no regrets’ in debating the matter in Guernsey and was pleased with the way the debate had been conducted both in the States Chamber and publicly.
Tanya Tupper has launched a petition on the Assisted Dying in Jersey CI Facebook page to gauge public support for the issue in the Island and is hopeful that one of the newly elected States Members will lodge a proposition for debate in the Chamber.