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Jersey approves plans to allow assisted dying for terminally ill patients

Legislators announced the news this morning and claimed the service will be in place for residents by the middle of 2027.

Jersey is an island country and self-governing British Crown Dependency, which means it can make its own laws. It has become the 10th country to move ahead with allowing assisted dying for people with a terminal illness following a vote in its parliament on Wednesday.

Dignity in Dying campaign gathered out Jersey’s parliament.

The legislation is expected to be brought before the island’s states assembly by the end of next year, and an assisted dying service should be implemented by 2027.

Results of the vote found roughly two to one legislators were in favour of establishing an assisted dying service for adults with a terminal illness who have a life expectancy of six months, or 12 months if they have a neurodegenerative disease – these disorders include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. However, before proceeding with the service, applicants must have made a voluntary and informed decision to die.

Although assisted dying has been allowed for adults with a terminal illness, the assembly rejected the idea to allow it for people with an incurable physical condition that may not be terminal but caused them unbearable suffering. Legislators also backed an opt-out for health professionals, giving them a legal right to refuse participation.

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of the Dignity in Dying campaign, said: ‘Today’s vote is a victory for compassion and common sense. We congratulate states members for listening to the wishes of Jersey citizens and rejecting the assisted dying ban. They have recognised that doing nothing and maintaining the status quo is unconscionable.

‘Jersey is on the cusp of historic change to give dying people the choice and compassion that they are calling out for.’

After the results were announced today, tributes were paid to Jersey residents who have tirelessly campaigned for assisted dying to be made legal. Gary Burgess, a local journalist who died of brain cancer and Charlie Tostevin, who has motor neurone disease, were amongst the tributes.

Currently, assisted dying is legal in Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, US, Australia, Belgium, France and Japan. What’s more, is the Isle of Man, which is another crown dependency, is also expected to legalise assisted dying for residents within the next 18 months.

Against this backdrop, in the Scottish parliament, a bill to allow for assisted dying could have its first vote later this year – making it the first part of the UK to offer terminally ill patients the option to end their life.

In addition, both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer have also promised to allow time for a backbench bill in the next parliament, following pressure from public opinion and a shift in views from MPs since the last vote in 2015.

Image: Christian Keenan/PA

More on this topic:

MPs report prompts calls to renew assisted dying vote

Feature: Should the Assisted Dying Bill be seen as an extension of palliative care?

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