Assisted dying ethical review published by Jersey’s government

Written by: Joe Stafford

Jersey’s government has published a report into assisted dying after an ethical review was undertaken by three experts, including one from The University of Manchester’s Centre for Social Ethics and Policy.

Following the publishing of a consultation report in April this year, Jersey’s Minister for Health and Social Services announced her intentions for an ethical review to further inform detailed proposals for assisted dying in the self-governing British Crown Dependency. 

The ethical review builds on the States Assembly’s ‘in principle’ decision that assisted dying should be permitted in Jersey. It summarises ethical arguments on key aspects of assisted dying, and maps these ethical considerations across the Jersey-specific proposals.

The review was undertaken externally by Dr Alex Mullock from The University of Manchester, Professor Richard Huxtable from the University of Bristol and Professor Trudo Lemmens from the University of Toronto. All three individuals have published work on the subject and have contributed as specialist witnesses in the development of legislation around the world. They were selected because they hold a range of views on assisted dying:

  • Dr Mullock is broadly in favour of assisted dying as a compassionate response within a carefully regulated scheme that safeguards individuals who may be regarded as vulnerable if assisted dying is permitted
  • Professor Huxtable is in favour of adopting a “middle ground” (or compromise) position on assisted dying, which seeks to accommodate arguments for and against allowing assisted dying
  • Professor Lemmens has supported a first Canadian law which allowed euthanasia and assisted suicide in a broad end-of-life context. He has become increasingly concerned about how assisted dying regimes develop over time, particularly when they allow direct administering of lethal medication by healthcare providers and have no specific terminal illness and prognosis of survival as safeguards. He is opposed to legalising the practice outside a clearly delineated end-of-life context and is concerned about the overall ability to monitor the practice

Jersey’s Council of Ministers is preparing to lodge proposals for debate by the end of March 2024, with the intention to debate before the end of summer 2024.

“I would like to thank the authors of the review for their work,” said Deputy Karen Wilson, Jersey’s Minister for Health and Social Services. “This review will ensure that States Members are sighted on the range of complex ethical and moral considerations associated with these proposals. Over the coming months the Government will be working to progress the States Assembly’s ‘in principle’ decision, and lodge detailed proposals in the new year.”

“I was pleased to be involved in the ethical review of the proposal for lawful assisted dying in Jersey,” said Dr Alex Mullock.

This is a sensitive and complex topic that invites strong feelings on each side of the debate. We reviewed evidence from several countries where assisted dying is lawful, and we set out the ethical arguments for and against each aspect of the Jersey proposal. We hope that our review will assist the States Assembly in finalising the details of the proposed assisted dying law.

Dr Alex Mullock

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