Physician Assisted Suicide - What is Wrong with Jersey's Plans
Later this month legislation will be brought to the Jersey States inviting them to agree in principle to not only Physician Assisted Suicide but also Euthanasia - the killing patients by their doctors or others.
A local doctor has written a request for help form all of us and a critique of some of the main points in the proposition. Please write to your States Members opposing PAS ad Euthanasia URGENTLY. Her letter is below:
Your help is needed!
A report and proposition ‘P.95/2021 Assisted Dying’, bringing forward the recommendations of the Jersey Assisted Dying Citizens’ Jury was lodged au Greffe by the Council of Ministers on 13 October. A link to the report can be found here: https://statesassembly.gov.je/Pages/Propositions.aspx?ref=P.95/2021&refurl=%2fPages%2fPropositions.aspx
Subject to approval, the date for debate in the States Assembly has been set for 23 November 2021
Even if you are uncertain about whether you might be in favour of some form of assisted dying the proposals for Jersey are particularly concerning as:
1. They are very wide in method including both physician assisted suicide PAS (where a doctor prescribes lethal drugs the person can choose to take) and euthanasia (where they are administered by a professional)
2. They are very wide in scope including: “those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, which is expected to result in unbearable suffering that cannot be alleviated and is reasonably expected to die within six months; or, has an incurable physical condition, resulting in unbearable suffering that cannot be alleviated”.
3. They rely on the person having a “voluntary, clear, settled and informed wish to end their life”. It is very difficult to know (especially if provision is from a private provider with no previous knowledge of the person or family) how voluntary someone’s decision is.
4. They are very wide in the skill set of the person delivering euthanasia: “assisted dying should be permitted with the direct assistance of registered medical practitioners and registered nurses only”. (This could be someone who is newly qualified)
5. They rely on capacity being assessed. Legislation for Capacity assessment in Jersey only came into force in 2018. There is no regular mandatory training for doctors and nurses. It is complex legislation and the practice of the law requires experience.
6. They rely on proper regulation. We have no formal procedures for regulating a private provider delivering services in Jersey. The Jersey Care commission was only operational in 2019 and is not even fully functional for existing health and social care services yet.
7. The safeguards proposed are not adequate. In every country where PAS and euthanasia have been introduced the safeguards have not been enough. The scope of who is eligible has increased, the conscientious objection clause has been difficult to uphold, there are large numbers where proper paperwork has been lacking, people have been coerced into the decision and the law has extended to include those without capacity.
Please can I encourage you to write to ministers about your concerns. There is a draft letter attached to this document that you can use and this is a link to a list of the emails/ postal addresses of the Members of the States Assembly. https://statesassembly.gov.je/sitecollectiondocuments/states%20assembly/2021.10.07%20-%20constitution%20of%20the%20states%20of%20jersey%20(green%20sheets).pdf
However, if you are able, a personal account, family or friend experience which could raise concerns about any of the following would be probably more impactful:
· Examples of safeguards which have not worked in those with terminal illness, chronic disability
· Examples of coercion or abuse related to wills, treatment decisions at end of life.
· Mistakes with regard to capacity assessment
· Examples of people being given a terminal diagnosis and it being wrong. Or cases where people lasted much longer than 6 months.
· Examples of unbearable suffering that was resolved when the right help was found/ depression treated.
Thank you for your help with this important issue which threatens the lives of the people of Jersey.
A Jersey Doctor