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Tanni Grey Thompson warns against bringing assisted suicide to Guernsey

11 May 2018

The paralympian and peer said that euthanasia risked the disabled becoming "collateral damage".

Proposals are being debated on 16 May 

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, a paralympian and leading disability rights activist, has warned against plans to introduce assisted suicide or euthanasia on Guernsey.

The States of Deliberation, the States of Guernsey's deliberative assembly, are due to debate proposals on assisted suicide on 16 May.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said that removing universal safeguards was dangerous and risked vulnerable and disabled people becoming "collateral damage".

Whose choice?

She also spoke movingly of her own experience as a disabled person, and how there is no way for anyone to be sure that people aren't having choices made for them. "Many people think I have no quality of life, that I'm bound to be a burden to those around me," she said. "If there was a state approved means to obtain assistance to end life, on a bad day, or on a low ebb, it really wouldn't take much for disabled people to consider that the people they love might be better off without them...I'm so glad that 'choice' is not available to me, as I'm sure is the case for the vast majority of disabled or vulnerable Islanders." 

Baroness Grey-Thompson recorded the film to be shown at a public meeting, held at St Peter's Port on Tuesday. Those attending the packed public meeting, organised by Care for Life, also heard from Dr Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship, and Kevin Yuill, an academic historian and author of the book: Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization.

Dangerous road

Dr Saunders warned about the implications of changing the law for the medical profession, pointing out that not a single major doctors group supports such a change. Kevin Yuill explained how in jurisdictions that legalised euthanasia in "restricted" cases, it has been extended to include disabled people, the young and those suffering with mental health problems.

Proposals to bring assisted suicide to Guernsey are being brought by Deputy Gavin St Pier. On Tuesday, Guernsey's Policy and Resources Committee, the senior governmental body, and the Guernsey Disability Alliance both stated their opposition. Mr St Pier has now been forced to amend his own proposal, and introduce a substantially watered down alternative. 

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