An attempt to legalise assisted dying in Guernsey has been defeated in the island’s parliament after a three-day debate.
Members of the legislature voted against a requete – similar to a private member’s bill – proposed by Guernsey’s chief minister, Gavin St Pier. A series of votes on different clauses were lost decisively.
If the requete had passed, Guernsey would have become the first place in the British Isles to offer euthanasia for people with terminal illnesses.
Supporters of the requete said they were disappointed by the outcome, but believed change was inevitable.
“Naturally we are disappointed with this result, although it was not entirely unexpected. We 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.”
“We, of course, accept that decision. We remain of the view that this is an inevitable change which in the fullness of time Guernsey will one day adopt.”
The proposal sought to adopt the Oregon model, meaning that euthanasia would be restricted to people with a diagnosis of terminal illness with less than six months to live and full mental capacity. People from other areas of the British Isles would not be able to travel to Guernsey to take advantage of its law.
It was opposed by Christian leaders on the island, the British Medical Association and the Guernsey Disabilities Alliance. A key government committee refused to back the proposal, saying it was not a priority and investigations would be a drain on resources.
The Oregon model has been adopted in six US states as well as Oregon, Canada and the Australian state of Victoria. New Zealand is considering the legislation.
The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have more permissive laws, based on applicants’ suffering, but not requiring a terminal diagnosis. Switzerland allows assisted dying on compassionate grounds to residents and non-residents.
The requete needed a simple majority of the 40 deputies who sit in Guernsey’s States of Deliberation.