Quicker action is needed on assisted dying in Jersey

Letter to the Editor from Chris Blackstone, St Martin


SO, Health Minister Richard Renouf’s citizens’ jury has come out 78% in favour of the passing of appropriate legislation for assisted dying. This is within a percentage point or two of the results of other surveys carried out in the Island over the past few years and thus it is hardly a surprise. There was absolutely no point in insisting on this procedure and thus it was merely a delaying tactic.

From the information now available, it appears that:

lThe report of the citizens’ jury which has been released is only a preliminary one and we have to await the formal ‘all-singing-all-dancing’ report. However it is dressed up, it can hardly arrive at a conclusion other than that already announced.

lWe will then proceed to a States debate. However, this will only be ‘in principle’ and will then have to be followed by a further debate to consider actual law drafting. It is mooted that this first debate might take place in September.

lThen comes Christmas…

lWith the politicians concentrating on the imminent elections, will they really be willing to hold a meaningful debate on the question of assisted dying?

lThen comes the 2022 election…

Taking all this into account, it seems unlikely that the appropriate legislation will be in place until sometime in 2023. Meanwhile, people will be condemned to suffer unnecessarily, waiting on the whims of those in positions of authority.

What is to stop the States from moving to a full and comprehensive debate as soon as the summer recess is over? The law officers might then be instructed to draft legislation as a matter of prime urgency.

Surely the first and foremost criterion must be compassion for those in agony who wish to have a peaceful death on their own terms? The schedules of the politicians and the civil servants must come a very poor second.

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