Guernsey rejects assisted dying

After three days of debate, the Guernsey parliament – the States of Deliberation –  decided decisively against the introduction of the assisted dying regime; however, it agreed to a review of palliative and end-of-life care. 

Background

As we noted in our post Assisted dying in Guernsey, on 7 February 2018 seven (of the total 40)  Members of the States lodged the Requête – P.2018/24 (Deputy St Pier and 6 other Members) relating to assisted dying for future consideration at States Meetings. Subsequently, there were further amendments to the Requête, but nevertheless, it was not supported by the Policy and Resources Committee; the Committee stated in its letter of 8 May:

“It was the unanimous view of the Committee, sitting without its two recused Members [who were requérants], that whatever one’s personal beliefs on this contentious matter, it would be poor governance to support the Requête and then not to discharge it because it is not resourced or funded. These requirements are not quantified in the Requête”.

Decisions of the States of Deliberation

Whilst supporting 37 to1 a review into “measures necessary to improve quality of life and health outcomes for all islanders towards the end of their lives”, (“the Review”), the States voted decisively against assisted dying. The detailed text of the States resolution concerning Billet d’État No XII dated 20th April, 2018 is available here. The BBC’s Ben Chapple reported the voting, as:

  • On ensuring there is an effective capacity legislation in place before an assisted dying law along as the non-discrimination and equality for disabled people, extension of the international human rights conventions and an independent body concerned with islanders equality and rights – defeated 16-22
  • Establishment of a Working party to investigate assisted dying legislation – defeated 14-24
  • For Alderney and Guernsey to work together to develop a suitable policy and legal regime to permit assisted dying in both islands – defeated 11-26 .

With regard to the Review, the States instructed the Committee for Health & Social Care “[t]o consider the measures necessary to improve quality of life and health outcomes for all islanders towards the end of their lives, including:

  • improvements in the provision, availability and/or affordability of community services, primary care, aids and adaptations, and long-term care;
  • greater investment in person-centered care for all who require health and care services on an ongoing basis, and recognition and support for the friends and family who surround them, especially those who have caring responsibilities towards them; and
  • possible developments in end-of-life care, such as increasing the hours of provision of specialist palliative care, the on-island availability of specialist consultants, the provision of counselling and support services, and/or the provision of alternative medication and technologies for pain relief;

As far as possible, the work is to be consolidated with relevant on-going work streams under the Partnership of Purpose, the Supported Living and Ageing Well Strategy, and the Disability and Inclusion Strategy; and having consulted with the Policy & Resources Committee and any other relevant States Committees, the Committee for Health & Social Caret is to report back to the States as soon as practicable, but by June 2020 at the latest, with recommendations and propositions for ways in which such improvements and developments could be implemented along with resource implications.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Guernsey rejects assisted dying" in Law & Religion UK, 18 May 2018, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2018/05/18/guernsey-rejects-assisted-dying/

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