An “ethics review” of assisted dying in Jersey has been published, but campaigners have questioned the need for the review, the scope of the report and the report’s recommendations.
Assisted dying has been approved in Jersey ‘in principle’ after a citizens’ jury discussed the topic in immense detail. In 2020, a panel of 23 randomly selected representative members of the community met over a ten-week period. The panellists looked in depth at the ethical question of assisted dying. Evidence was submitted by a large range of international experts. The overwhelming majority recommended that it should be available to adults of sound mind, who are either terminally ill or experiencing unbearable suffering, subject to robust safeguards.
Since then, the Government of Jersey has run two different consultations on the subject. These consultations included the input of over 28 organisations, numerous individual experts from across the globe and testimony from people in Jersey affected by the law. My Death, My Decision as well as many different organisations commended the professionalism of the consultation report and the consequent proposals by the government at the time.
It is unclear why three individual experts’ opinions have been valued over and above the detailed consultation processes that have been carried out so far. There has been no clear explanation by the government as to why the review was necessary after the thorough processes outlined above.
The results of the ethical review and its recommendations are at odds with the citizens’ jury on this subject, which specifically went into detail on the eligibility criteria that any law should have. The review has recommended against including adults who are intolerably suffering from an incurable physical illness, despite 69% of the jury specifically voting in favour of that criterion.
The arguments in favour of removing these eligibility criteria included that suffering is hard to define. This is at odds with the decades of experience that can be offered by Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and Canada. Jersey can look to other jurisdictions for ways in which to address this, as well as examine how they have operated successfully in practice.
Trevor Moore, Chair of My Death, My Decision said:
“The immense amount of time, effort, expertise – and no doubt cost – that has already been invested in consideration of an assisted dying law for Jersey, throws into question why this ethical review was necessary. Equally questionable is why the opinions of three individuals have been allowed to outweigh the detailed jury process and the outcome of a comprehensive consultation, drawing on worldwide expertise.
Rather than exclude discussion of the eligibility criteria for any law on the island, surely all of the decision-makers should be allowed to hear the differing perspectives that feed into the ultimate decision? Not to allow this would be to disregard the substantial work that has already been undertaken to provide those very perspectives.”
Members of the MDMD team, as well as individuals affected by the current law on assisted dying, are available for interview upon request
For further comment or information, media should contact Nathan Stilwell at email@example.com or phone 07456200033.
My Death, My Decision is a grassroots campaign group that wants the law in England and Wales to allow mentally competent adults who are terminally ill or intolerably suffering from an incurable condition the option of a legal, safe, and compassionate assisted death. With the support of over 3,000 members and supporters, we advocate for an evidence-based law that would balance individual choice alongside robust safeguards and finally give the people of England and Wales choice at the end of their lives.
Read more about our work with the Assisted Dying Inquiry: https://www.mydeath-mydecision.org.uk/2023/07/13/our-summary-the-assisted-dying-inquiry/