Last week, Jersey’s Council of Ministers announced that a new commission will research end of life options, including the legalisation of assisted dying and dying well The announcement follows after more than 1,800 people signed a petition from End of Life Choices Jersey (MDMD’s partner in the newly formed Assisted Dying Coalition).  

Tanya Tupper, whose terminally ill mother Roberta is planning to end her life in the Swiss clinic Dignitas, began the campaign to change the law. Last year, after contacting Jersey’s’ election candidates she found that around a third of Jersey’s candidates would have supported changing the law to permit assisted dying in Jersey.

In answer the petition, Health Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf said that “much of the debate in other jurisdictions has been underpinned by shared values of care, freedom of choice and compassion. It is these shared values that we should now draw on in reviewing our own laws on end-of-life care to understand if a change is needed, and, if so, how to make that change”.

Jersey’s research will aim to bring together international research and focus upon: eligibility criteria for an assisted death, protection and safeguards for patients, the registration of medical practitioners, and ethical codes of conduct.  

Jersey, an island of over 100,000 people, would be the second channel Island to consider legalising assisted dying, after Guernsey’s parliament voted against a similar proposal in May 2018.

Responding to the announcement, MDMD’s Campaign Policy Director, Phil Cheatle, who delivered a talk to the Jersey campaign group last year, said:

“My Death, My Decision is delighted by the by Council of Ministers’ decision, and congratulate our partners End of Life Choices Jersey on their process. It could give dignity to those, whose illness steals it from them; freedom to those, otherwise condemned to years of suffering and peace to families, forced either to let their loved ones suffer or risk imprisonment.”

“Having opened the door to a more compassionate approach to dying, I urge the Council of Ministers to review the evidence on an objective basis, and adopt a law which strikes a kinder balance between empowering individuals, respecting their dignity, and protecting the most vulnerable with stringent safeguards. Many in the UK and channel Islands will now look to Jersey to lead the way on this issue. Now is the time for the law to change.”