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Assisted dying will come back for debate, it's just a question of when

Assisted dying will come back for debate, it's just a question of when

Saturday 19 May 2018

Assisted dying will come back for debate, it's just a question of when

Some of Guernsey's senior politicians have told Express that it will only be a matter of time before the question of legalising assisted dying is debated by the States again.

The Home Affairs President, Deputy Mary Lowe said it is unlikely to be before the 2020 election but she thinks it is now at the forefront of more peoples' minds.

"Certainly not in this term of government," she said. "Whether it will come up again, maybe it will do, but the States have set their priorities; they need to make their minds up. They either want to set their priorities and work corporately or not. 

"To come up with something that wasn't on the list, at this moment in time; it's taken a huge amount of resources, even in the last few months. Certainly at staff level and it's taken a massive amount of time for States members as well. That's fine - we're there to answer emails and to listen to people but it has been different to what we'd actually agreed and I'm not sure that's good governance."

Mary Lowe

Pictured: Deputy Mary Lowe

Deputy Lowe is the longest serving States member and was representing the Vale when euthanasia was debated during 2004. That proposal was also rejected. She said there still isn't an appetite to change the law to allow any form of assisted dying.

"No, not at all, certainly not from feedback I've had. We're all different and we're all going to get different responses from people but it's been overwhelmingly to reject it. It's not right for Guernsey at this moment in time.

"If we made a law the UK law would impinge on this and any British citizen could be tried with murder. I don't think we need to go down that route at all really. Certainly put more money into palliative care, and I accept the two can sit alongside one another, but the clear message that I've received, and a fantastic result for rejecting assisting dying, has been reflected in the States today."

Heidi Soulsby  

Deputy Heidi Soulsby

The Health and Social Care President also believes the topic will be back for debate and that the matter could then be subject to an even closer vote than seen yesterday.

Speaking after the debate, Deputy Heidi Soulsby said she, like many other deputies, thought similar proposals would eventually return to the States, though not any time soon, and added that between this debate and the 2004 requete, the vote gap had closed.

Gavin St Pier

Pictured: Deputy Gavin St Pier

Deputy Gavin St Pier, who led the requete from the start, said he was disappointed that it had failed, but said he had known for a time before the vote was taken. He released a statement whilst the voting was being carried out stating that he and his fellow requerants believe that a majority of the population do support a change in the law, "however, we live in a representative democracy and our parliamentary assembly, the States of Deliberation, has by majority, made a democratic decision which settles the matter in Guernsey."

Speaking after the close of the States meeting he added, "I absolutely think the debate was worth it, as many people said during their speeches, this is a topic which isn't going away any time soon, and we were able to have a shining example of a debate on the world stage."  

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