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Jersey ‘favours assisted-dying legislation’

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JERSEY would be ‘massively in favour’ of the introduction of assisted-dying legislation, according to a campaign group that commissioned a survey on the subject.

Michael Talibard

In June, End of Life Choices Jersey launched the survey – run by independent local firm 4insight – to explore Islanders’ views on end-of-life choices and assisted dying.

The opinions of 1,420 Islanders were canvassed and the results have now been published.

Michael Talibard, deputy co-ordinator of End of Life Choices Jersey, said the number of Islanders who indicated they would be in favour of assisted-dying legislation was ‘remarkably high’.

He said: ‘I didn’t expect that the results of the survey would be so strikingly in favour [of assisted dying]. As a group we find that very encouraging.’

End of Life Choices Jersey was set up to campaign for individuals who are terminally ill or suffering from an incurable, intolerable condition to have the right to determine how and when they end their own life, without incriminating those assisting them.

‘Now we’re entering phase two of our opinion poll by asking [the Island’s] doctors what they think,’ he added.

In the first survey, a cross-section of Islanders was presented with four scenarios.

The first asked respondents how acceptable they thought it would be for a doctor to assist someone to die when their condition would eventually lead to death.

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In the second scenario, the phrase ‘will eventually cause death’ was substituted for ‘will cause death in the next six months’. In the third, the phrase was replaced with ‘will not directly cause death’, and the fourth scenario gave the example of an individual suffering from dementia, but who had not yet lost mental capacity.

In each case, respondents could indicate how acceptable they thought it would be for a doctor to assist someone to die by stating ‘always’, ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’.

According to 4insight’s report on the survey, the results found that 63% of respondents ‘believed that assisted dying was “always acceptable” when the condition would eventually cause death’ in a person, ‘rising to 70% when the condition would cause death in the next six months’.

It also found that across all four scenarios, ‘between 86.5% and 92% of respondents believed that assisted dying would be acceptable to some extent, even if just rarely’.

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The questions were structured around a recently completed UK survey sponsored by UK group My Death, My Decision.

According to Mr Talibard, the number of surveyed Islanders who were in favour of assisted dying was ‘a little higher even’ than those recorded in the UK poll.

He said Jersey’s doctors were now being polled with a ‘similar opinion survey’.

‘Their responses will be measured over approximately the next fortnight,’ he said.

Addressing doctors directly, he added: ‘The public are massively in favour – they are your patients – so where do you stand?’

David Edbrooke

By David Edbrooke
Journalist

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