A Jersey charity tasked with caring for the terminally ill has spoken out against assisted dying, after Guernsey announced controversial steps towards legalising the practice yesterday.
If approved, Guernsey could become the first area in the British Isles to allow its residents to wilfully cut their lives short if suffering from a terminal illness or long-term life-limiting condition.
But palliative care provider Jersey Hospice, which looks after hundreds of dying islanders each year, has now entered the emotive debate, arguing that the focus should be on “the right to die well” rather than the right to die.
“The focus of Jersey Hospice Care now and tomorrow shall always be about the living and living well, right up until the end.
“The European Association of Palliative Care has declared that the provision of euthanasia and assisted dying should not be included in the practice of palliative care – a position that has remained unchanged for 50 years. This is a position that we support,” they said.
Their comments came after the Guernsey government was caught in a media frenzy following misunderstandings over their plans in the national press, leading to fears that approving assisted dying would lead to ‘suicide clinics’ or even ‘suicide tourism’.
Pictured: Some of yesterday's media reports about the assisted dying proposals.
But Deputy Gavin St. Pier – the island’s leading political figure – made assurances that there were no plans for “a Dignitas type solution” following a front page splash in the Daily Mirror highlighted an apparent “shock move” for the “first British suicide clinic”.
He told Express that the headline – similar iterations of which featured on other national news websites – was unfortunate and didn’t properly reflect what was planned locally, adding that assisted dying and assisted suicide were two different things.
“As ever the headline is rather different to the content of the article. We are not talking about assisted suicide here, we are talking about assisted dying for people who are terminally ill and who have the capacity to make that choice for themselves.”
Deputy St. Pier added that a decision wouldn’t be reached until May at the earliest, with “an awful lot of work left to do.”
Interviews with @NickFerrariLBC @itvnews @BBCWales @SkyNews all requested off back of @DailyMirror article. Opportunity to clarify that debate is about assisted dying not suicide; and no proposal for a Dignitas style clinic. About improving end of life choice for our community. https://t.co/zRCnES9Bvt— Gavin St Pier (@gavinstpier) March 21, 2018
While Guernsey’s move has stimulated debate and interest in its sister isle, there are no plans at present for such a law in Jersey. To introduce such plans would be an unlikely move at this stage in time, with under two months before the General Election, and just a few weeks before States Members enter purdah. Speaking in her previous role as Health Minister, Deputy Anne Pryke has previously stated that she was against the idea, while Senator Andrew Green – the incumbent – has not spoken out on the issue.
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