Assisted dying: Islander is to give personal testimony

THE citizens’ jury considering assisted dying will hear the personal testimony of an Islander who has made plans to travel to Switzerland to end his life.

Alain Duchemin last weekend following his wedding to Paul. (30504167)
Alain Duchemin last weekend following his wedding to Paul. (30504167)

Last month Alain du Chemin, who is suffering from an incurable brain tumour, told the JEP that the nature of his illness and his desire to take part in medical trials meant that he did not know whether he would be able to put his story personally to the 23-person citizens’ jury.

However, Dignity in Dying – the organisation which helped him tell his story – has confirmed that it has prepared a video for the jury in response to a request for recorded evidence.

‘We have filmed Alain explaining his situation and views, how the ban on assisted dying affected him and his loved ones, and what a change in the law would mean to him, and will be submitting that to the jury in due course,’ said the organisation’s media and campaigns manager, Ellie Ball.

She also confirmed that they would be making a submission in their own right.

Mr du Chemin decided to publicise details of his own circumstances in the hope that it would inform the debate about whether the law should be changed in Jersey.

‘I really feel that my story is one that I feel is quite strong for the law to be looked at again and that’s what I’m hoping that by sharing it – and it’s not easy for anybody – will help inform the discussions in the future,’ he said last month.

The jury, which is considering whether assisted dying should be permitted in Jersey and, if so, under what conditions, first met online last week. It will hold a series of sessions between now and the end of May before reporting to the Health Minister.

Meanwhile, End of Life Choices Jersey ­– the group which has lobbied for law change – has submitted to the jury details of the safeguards it believes should be introduced as part of new law.

‘End of Life Choices Jersey wishes to see legislation that would establish a doctor’s right to assist, without infringing criminal law, in the death of qualified adult patients who are Jersey residents,’ it says in its submission.

It proposes four witnessed documents: two, each signed by two doctors, confirming that the patient is suffering from ‘a grievous and irremediable condition’, and that the patient has the capacity to make the decision to end their life; and two by the patient confirming that it is their considered wish to be assisted to die, and that the wish has been expressed over an extended period.

However, in relation to the last of these it adds: ‘The jury might consider whether this safeguard is truly needed. In our view, assisted dying should never be a last-minute decision, and in any case, in practice, the documentation and the medical set-up will always take some time to prepare.’

A spokesman for the group, Michael Talibard, confirmed that they had been invited to appear in a virtual session with the jury but he expressed frustration that there was a five-minute time limit on the video submissions, which he said would make it difficult to present a proper case.

He also questioned why the expert advisers involved in the process included medical and legal experts only from the UK rather than places where assisted dying was already permitted.

‘I don’t know why, since there isn’t any legislation in the UK on this matter. I’m sure that they are expert in it all and have studied it in depth but they don’t have any practical experience of how it works,’ he said.

A government spokesperson said in response: ‘The expert advisers and content oversight team have been selected for their subject matter expertise, which includes an understanding of the experience of jurisdictions where assisted dying is permitted.

‘The jury sessions will include case studies from jurisdictions where assisted dying is permitted, presented by local and subject matter experts with a range of views.’

Top Stories

More From The Jersey Evening Post

UK & International News