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Guernsey votes against legalising assisted dying

The States of Guernsey Assembly has today voted against proposals to grant legal recognition to assisted dying. The proposals, which were brought forward by Chief Minister Gavin St Pier and were supported by Channel Islands Humanists and Humanists UK, were defeated by 24 votes to 14.

Had the vote passed, the States of Guernsey would have established a working party for the development of legislation to permit assisted dying with appropriate safeguards within 18 months. This regime would have permitted adults who are of sound mind, are terminally ill, and who have six months or fewer left to live, the information, support, and means to end their life at the time of their choice, subject to stringent safeguards.

Reacting to the outcome, Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘As medical science has become more advanced, so too has our ability to keep people alive for longer than ever before. This development in science is to be welcomed but it also means that many people end up suffering for longer before they die. The proposals that Guernsey has voted on today, therefore, were needed more now than at any other time in our history.

‘We are disappointed by today’s outcome, which will let down many people who need a change in the law. With more and more jurisdictions around the world making assisted dying legal, it seems clear to us that legal assisted dying in Guernsey and across the rest of these isles is surely a matter of when, not if.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at richy@humanism.org.uk or on 0781 55 89 636.

In 2013-14, Humanists UK intervened in support of Tony and Jane Nicklinson’s and Paul Lamb’s attempts to overhaul the law on assisted dying for the terminally ill and incurably suffering by taking human rights cases through the courts. Humanists UK also supported subsequent attempts in the UK Parliament to legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill.

This year, Humanists UK intervened in the Court of Appeal case of its member Noel Conway, who is terminally ill, and is intending to do the same in the anticipated High Court case of its member Omid T who is seeking to also allow assisted dying for those who are not terminally ill but are incurably suffering.

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaigns work on assisted dying: http://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/assisted-dying/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Channel Islands Humanists is part of Humanists UK.

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