Guernsey chief minister says assisted dying on the island is ‘inevitable’

Gavin St. Pier, Guernsey's chief minister, has backed plans to legalise assisted dying on the Channel Island Guernsey - saying that it is 'inevitable'.

The Guernsey resident tweeted his support for plans to make euthanasia legal for people who have a terminal illness, are mentally competent, and who have less than six months to live.

He said, ‘Governments can choose to lead or they can choose to follow the will of the people; either way, giving terminally ill individuals their right to informed end of life choices is inevitable.

‘The difference is simply: when? #mycaremychoice’.

He continued, saying that people should not be denied the choice about when to end their own life.

Gavin tweeted, ‘We reject paternalism: the notion that ‘nanny knows best’, that government knows what is best for us; yet we deny individuals their informed end of life choices when they are terminally ill. #mycaremychoice’.

Gavin St Pier’s support comes just weeks after it was revealed that Dignitas, an organisation that offers assisted dying to those with a terminal mental or physical illness/condition, has offered their expertise to the island.

Given the organisation’s offer, it’s now been reported that senior officials on the island will debate allowing assisted dying on the island, to help sick people end their lives how, and when, they want.

If the law is brought into force, it would only apply to residents of the island – which is approximately a one hour flight from London.

Currently, assisted dying is illegal in the United Kingdom. However, legally, Guernsey is a Crown dependancy within the British Isles. But it is not a part of the United Kingdom. This means that it is not bound by the same laws as the rest of the UK.

However, any decision made would need to be approved by the Privy Council, a formal body of advisors to the Queen. If the law were to be passed, allowing assisted dying to occur in Guernsey, it would be the first place in the British Isles to do so.

Gavin St Pier has admitted that his decision to back assisted dying has been influenced by his father’s experience, at the end of his life.

He told the Huffington Post, “He was under the care of a palliative care team, who were able to ensure his death was a pain free one, but it wasn’t a comfortable death for him.

“More importantly, it wasn’t a death he would have chosen for himself. He very clearly wanted to be in control and of course he wasn’t.”

Currently, many terminally ill people who chose to end their life travel to the Dignitas’s clinic in Switzerland – where assisted dying is legal.

It’s thought that two people from Guernsey have made the trip over to the clinic in the last 10 years.

What are your thoughts on the plans?

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