Guernsey rejects assisted suicide
18 May 2018
Care not Killing has welcomed "this strong rejection of this dangerous proposition by the elected Deputies on the Island."
A resounding victory
A proposal which would have led to assisted suicide on Guernsey has been defeated after a three day debate in the island's Parliament.
The States of Deliberation, Guernsey's deliberative assembly, were considering a requete - similar to a private member's bill - brought by Chief Minister Gavin St Pier. The main proposal, which would have seen a working party formed to consider how assisted suicide could be introduced, was defeated by 24 votes to 14. A proposal to do more to support palliative care was passed by 37-1.
As Care Not Killing explains, it was a confusing few days for both legislators and onlookers, with a number of amendments made to the original requete, and a number of proposals voted on. Deputy St Pier tried to amend his own bill, after the initial proposal was opposed by both Guernsey's Policy and Resources Committee, the senior governmental body, and the Guernsey Disability Alliance. Disability rights activists such as Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson had also spoken out against the wide-ranging proposed legislation.
Mr St Pier said that he was disappointed with the result, but that he would accept it.
Deputies recognised the threat to public safety
Dr Peter Saunders, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing, said: "We welcome this strong rejection of this dangerous proposition by the elected Deputies on the Island.
"Parliamentarians across the UK have rightly rejected attempts to introduce assisted suicide and euthanasia ten times since 2003 out of concern for public safety, including in 2015 when the House of Commons overwhelmingly voted against any change in the law by 330 votes to 118.
"Just like Members of Parliament, MSPs and Peers, Guernsey's Deputies have recognised the erosion of so-called safeguards in the tiny number of places that have changed the law to allow assisted suicide and euthanasia - countries like Belgium, the Netherlands and the American states of Oregon and Washington."
Protecting the vulnerable
He pointed out that the majority of people who end their lives by euthanasia in Oregon do so because they fear becoming a burden. "This is why changing the law on assisted suicide and euthanasia is opposed by every major disability rights organisation and doctors' group, including the BMA, all the Royal Colleges, British Geriatric Society and the Association for Palliative Medicine."
Dr Saunders concluded: "The current law on Guernsey is clear - It protects those who are sick, elderly, depressed, or disabled from feeling under pressure to end their lives. It protects those who have no voice against exploitation and coercion, which is a real threat according to disability rights campaigners Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson and actress Liz Carr. We know the Deputies in Guernsey will now turn their attention to the real issues facing disabled people and the terminally ill on the Island, ensuring equality of access to the very best health care available and how to fund this."
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