Call for public’s view to be respected on assisted dying

A LEADING figure in the campaign to make assisted dying legal in Jersey has called on States Members to respect the views of a citizens jury.

Michael Talibard of End of Life Choices giving a speech in the Royal Square Pictures: ROB CURRIE
Michael Talibard of End of Life Choices giving a speech in the Royal Square Pictures: ROB CURRIE

Michael Talibard, of End of Life Choices Jersey, gave a speech in the Royal Square to mark World Right to Die day on Tuesday.

The event was held ahead of a debate in the States Assembly later this month, when Members will consider whether adults in Jersey should have a legal choice to end their lives in the event of terminal illness and/or unbearable suffering.

Mr Talibard highlighted a recent report which showed that 78% of members of a citizens’ jury convened to explore the issue were in favour of assisted dying, as well as a survey commissioned by his group in 2019 which indicated the support of an even larger majority.

He said: ‘That most ordinary people of every persuasion support this change is something which any democratically elected representative must respect – and we will certainly make sure at the next election that voters are aware of how each candidate voted.’

End of Life Choices Jersey was opposed to one part of the assisted-dying proposition that will be debated by Members at the sitting scheduled to start on 23 November, Mr Talibard said – the section which set out a legal pre-approval process for those wishing to end their lives.

‘This [pre-approval process] would cruelly interpose an expense and crucially a horrid delay just when time is of the essence – in most instances, it would effectively negate the whole benefit of the legislation,’ he said.

Mr Talibard said his group supported the options for palliative care that were available in Jersey, but that while such care might be enough in some cases, it would not suffice in others.

During the week before the States debate, End of Life Choices will invite Members to a meeting to be addressed by Silvan Luley, a human rights lawyer and director of the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.

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