Jersey generally approves euthanasia initially for Great Britain.


Jersey generally approves euthanasia initially for Great Britain.

Jersey is set to become the first place in the UK to approve euthanasia following a landmark vote by the island’s State Assembly.

Legislators supported a proposal that people should in principle have the opportunity to die.

The vote – held after a jury of citizens strongly recommended a change in the law – now paves the way for the Jersey Council of Ministers to draft new law on the matter.

As a dependency on the British Crown, Jersey is able to legislate on the matter independently of Westminster.

Thursday morning’s vote came amid overwhelming public support for legalizing euthanasia: About 90 percent of islanders agree that terminally ill adults should be allowed to die as long as they are mentally capable.

Only three percent thought Jersey should wait for London to act on the matter first.

Paul Gazzard, a resident of St. Helier, whose husband Alain du Chemin died of brain cancer in May, welcomed the vote. Alain himself had personally given the citizens’ jury testimony.

“I am delighted that the member states have decided today to support the terminally ill and their relatives and to reject the ban on euthanasia,” he said. “I was touched that several of the speeches referred to Alain; it would have been an honor for him to have played a part in this historic moment.

“Current Jersey law meant Alain was denied the right to die at home on his own terms, forcing us to arrange euthanasia in the middle of a pandemic. This consumed time and energy when both were tight and took its toll at an already difficult time. Having the option of euthanasia in Jersey alongside end-of-life care would have saved both of us so much stress and anxiety in his last few months. “

Sarah Wootton, executive director of Dignity in Dying, who is campaigning for a law change in the British Isles to make euthanasia possible for terminally ill, mentally competent adults, said: “Today is a victory for common sense and compassion.”

She added: “The State Assembly has listened to the public and the clear mandate of the citizens’ jury to fix this broken law. This historic vote paves the way for the first euthanasia legislation for British citizens, finally moving away from a cruel and outdated status quo that denies dying people the choice and forces them to suffer against their will. “

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