A politician wants to add an “extra stage” to the process for bringing assisted dying to Jersey to ensure that “loopholes don’t exist and that all safeguards are sufficient”.
The Council of Ministers’ proposition to enable assisted dying in Jersey for islanders over 18 diagnosed with a terminal illness or an incurable condition causing “unbearable suffering" is due for debate on 23 November.
Published last month by the Council of Ministers as a whole, rather than the Health Minister as expected, the proposition, followed a series of recommendations from a Citizens' Jury.
If approved, it will allow registered medical professionals to prescribe lethal drugs, or give voluntary euthanasia to those eligible.
But the November debate will only be on the general principles of assisted dying, with exact safeguards yet to be drawn up.
Ministers have suggested that the proposals should be subject to another pre-approval process which could involve a court or tribunal decision if adopted.
However, Deputy Kirsten Morel has now submitted an amendment seeking to introduce “an extra stage”.
He is proposing that, before Ministers send instructions to the Legislative Drafting Office, the final proposals - including a full set of safeguards on assisted dying - should be debated and voted on by States Members.
According to his amendment, the debate on the proposals should take place by October 2022 with the draft legislation to be available for debate by the States by the end of March 2023.
In the report accompanying his amendment, Deputy Morel described the initial proposition as one of the most “difficult and emotive”.
“Assisted Dying is not only a moral issue that interconnects with some of the most long-held social and religious beliefs: that of the life of human beings being sacrosanct and that nobody should ever take another human’s life,” he wrote.
While he is in favour of assisted dying “at the highest level of principle”, Deputy Morel said he had “strong reservations about the process, systems and safeguards “surrounding it and questioned whether Jersey was able to deliver these in “a wholly appropriate and incorruptible manner”.
Explaining why he published his amendment, he said it aimed to give the States Assembly “the greatest possible level of control over, and understanding of, the proposed processes” around assisted dying and ensure that “loopholes don’t exist and that all safeguards are sufficient”.
“I believe that this issue is one that needs to be handled by the Assembly with the greatest level of respect and a deep understanding that if we get this wrong, then people will die without themselves being entirely in control of their own fate,” he said.
“This assertion needs to be set against the reality that someone who engages with an Assisted Dying process and sees it through to completion, is not able to complain or raise problems later. There is no comeback from the completion of an Assisted Dying process.”
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