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Assisted dying proposals in Guernsey fall at final hurdle

Deputies in Guernsey voted down proposals to develop legislation supporting assisted dying.

Proposals for assisted dying legislation in Guernsey were voted down today after three days of debate.

The proposal, known as the requete, suggested a group would develop recommendations to permit terminally ill adults, who are of sound mind and with six months or fewer to live, the means to end their life at the time of their choice.

However, the proposal was rejected 24 votes to 14.

The defeat comes just three days after Deputies on the island voted in favour of debating a revised motion that included both assisted dying and palliative care.

Charities have criticised the move, saying such legislation is needed “more now than at any other time in our history” due to medical advances.

Richy Thompson, director of public affairs and policy at Humanists UK, said: “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.”

Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for a change in the law on assisted dying in the UK, said: “Many in Guernsey and beyond will be disappointed with today’s result, particularly those who have seen the suffering caused by the current law.

“However, this debate has proved beyond doubt that there is immense public support for change and that more politicians are beginning to listen to the views of their constituents.

“Regardless of today’s result, it is clear that change must and will come to the British Isles – the only question is ‘when’.”

However, anti-euthanasia campaign groups supported the Deputies’ decision to vote the proposal down.

Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of Care Not Killing, said: “We welcome this strong rejection of this dangerous proposition by the elected Deputies on the Island.

“Parliamentarians across the UK have rightly rejected attempts to introduce assisted suicide and euthanasia ten times since 2003 out of concern for public safety, including in 2015 when the House of Commons overwhelmingly voted against any change in the law by 330 votes to 118.

“We know the Deputies in Guernsey will now turn their attention to the real issues facing disabled people and the terminally ill on the island, ensuring equality of access to the very best health care available and how to fund this.”

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