In 2018 an e-petition was launched calling for the States Assembly to amend Jersey law and allow for assisted dying, 1,861 people signed the petition. This was followed in 2019 by an online public survey, a GP and doctors' survey and a public meeting, which indicated that there are people in our community who support assisted dying.
The Minister for Health and Social Services committed to establishing a Citizens' Jury to consider whether assisted dying should be permitted in Jersey.
The Jersey Assisted Dying Citizen's Jury initial report on recommendations has now been published.
About assisted dying
Assisted dying is where a person suffering from a terminal illness or a condition that may be incurable, is helped to die. They are usually assisted by a doctor who either provides, or administers, lethal drugs.
Agreement on exact definitions of assisted dying varies between individuals, organisations and jurisdictions. It is often used as an umbrella term to encompass both assisted suicide (providing someone with the means to end their own life) and voluntary euthanasia (where one person causes another person’s death with their consent).
About Citizens' Juries
Citizens' Juries are used all over the world to look at complex issues and make recommendations. It is a method of deliberation, where a small group of people (between 12 and 24), representative of the demographics of a given area, come together to carefully consider an issue. A Citizens' Jury can be used on different policy issues and it's particularly effective on value laden and controversial questions, where knowledge is contested and there might be important ethical and social repercussions. Normally citizens deliberate over a clearly framed question.
Throughout the sessions, Jury members listen to expert witnesses. These include neutral experts, stakeholders and advocates representing all sides, so that the jury can receive a balanced and complete picture of the issue. There is time allotted for the jurors to ask questions of the witnesses and time for them to deliberate. After all the hearings have been completed the rest of the time is set aside for the jurors to have final deliberations on the issue and answer the question. They'll reach a decision following deliberation on the issue, either by consensus or voting.
Jersey Assisted Dying Citizens' Jury
The Assisted Dying Citizens' Jury took place via online sessions in Spring 2021. The Jury was selected at random and demographically represents the Island's population. The Jury consisted of 23 Jersey residents.
The Jury met over 10 sessions. They were asked to answer the question, “Should assisted dying be permitted in Jersey and, if so, under what circumstances?” To support the Jury to answer this question, they heard from expert witnesses, both people with professional expertise on the subject and those with lived experience.
Throughout each session the Jury had the opportunity to discuss and deliberate the complex issues that surround the topic of assisted dying. The jury was supported by facilitators to make recommendations, which will be presented to the States Assembly as a report. These recommendations will be considered by the States Assembly before the end of 2021. The States Assembly are the decision makers with the authority to decide what, if any, changes are made to legislation in relation to assisted dying in Jersey.
The Jury sessions
There were a total of 10 Jury sessions. Each session being between two and two and half hours long. The sessions took place on the following dates:
Block 1||Thursday 18 March (session 1)|
Key background information on assisted dying, including definitions, language and the Jersey context.
|||Saturday 20 March (sessions 2 and 3)|
Presentations around the key question of: 'Which people may be eligible for assisted dying?
Case studies from other jurisdictions, with a focus on North America: Canada and Oregon
Block 2||Saturday 10 April (sessions 4 and 5)|
Case studies from other jurisdictions, with focus on Europe: Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany
Perspectives from faith-based, ethical and campaigning groups
Block 3||Saturday 24 April (sessions 6 and 7)|
Individual perspectives from patients, relatives, loved ones & carers
Professional perspectives from health and social care workers
|Thursday 13 May (session 8)|
In-depth deliberation: voting on the central question
|||Saturday 15 May (sessions 9 and 10)|
In-depth deliberation continued: agreeing the recommendations
Selection of Jury members
On 4 January 2021, 4,600 invitations were sent to a random sample of Jersey addresses. Anyone, aged 16 or over, who lived at those addresses was invited to register their interest in participating in the Jury. The registration process closed on Monday 25 January 2021.
In total, 477 Islanders registered their interest. Not everyone who registered their interest was selected, as typically a Citizens’ Jury consists of 18 to 24 people. Using a process called sortition, those who were randomly selected to participate, were chosen to broadly represent the Island’s population across the following criteria:
- age (source: Opendata.gov.je 2018 Population Estimate)
- gender (source: Opendata.gov.je 2018 Population Estimate)
- location (source: Jersey Opinions and Lifestyle Survey 2020)
- socio economic status, based on housing tenure (source: Jersey Opinions and Lifestyle Survey 2020)
- place of birth (source: Jersey 2011 census data)
- attitude towards assisted dying (source: British Social Attitudes Survey 34 (2017))
Support for Jury members
Jury members did not need any prior knowledge about assisted dying to take part. All that is required is a willingness to listen to the information presented and share views with other members of the Jury.
The anonymity of Jury members will be respected throughout the Jury process, no identifiable details will be made public unless Jury members choose to share their involvement publicly.
Training and support
Any Jury members who were not confident in using online devices and video calls, were provided with one to one support and training to ensure everyone selected could participate fully. Support was also offered to those who do not have access to broadband and internet enabled devices.
Other support needs
Other support needs were met, as required. For example, caring responsibilities and any additional communication support or access to information.
Recognition of involvement and time commitment
A payment of £300 was made to participants to recognise and reward their significant involvement across the 10 x 2/2.5 hours sessions.
Assisted dying is a personal and sensitive topic. It is important that the design of the Jury process recognized this, and that support was made available throughout the sessions. Support included access to a wellbeing and information pack prior to the start of the Jury sessions. The design of the sessions built in sufficient time to allow participants to process the issues being discussed. During each session, a breakout space was available, facilitated by Mind Jersey, to support any Jury member that required it, and signpost them to additional support, when needed.
Citizens’ Jury speakers and presentations
External speakers were invited to present to the Jury in blocks 1 to 3. Most speakers were also able to attend the session to answer questions from the Jury. See below for links to the presentations. To ensure the anonymity of the Jury members, recording of question and answer sessions and deliberations by Jury members will not be made public.
Speaker submissions and presentations
Recorded presentations hosted on the Government of Jersey YouTube channel
After the Citizens’ Jury finishes
The Citizens’ Jury were to asked whether or not assisted dying should be permitted in Jersey, and their recommendations will be presented in a report to the States Assembly It is likely that the States Assembly will then debate these conclusions before the end of 2021. The States Assembly are the decision makers with the authority to decide what, if any, changes are made to legislation in relation to assisted dying in Jersey.
The last meeting of the Citizens' Jury took place on 15 May. The initial report on recommendations was published on 22 June. This will be followed by a full Jury report, written up over the summer by Involve. The final report will provide information on the final project costs and more detail on the demographics of Jury members. Below is an estimated timeline of the next steps in the process:
15 May: Final Jury session [final Jury votes to take place shortly after the session]
26 May: Feedback session with Jury participants
Early June: Initial recommendations sent to Minister for Health and Social Services
prior to publication:
involve to share findings with Independent Panel
involve to send final document to Jury participants
Council of Ministers briefing
States Members briefing
22 June: Initial recommendations published
June to September: Government of Jersey policy development and potential proposition
by 1 August: Minister for Health and Social Services to receive final Jury report from Involve
late September: Lodge final Jury report for consideration by States Assembly
November/December: Potential States Assembly debate
Development and oversight of the Jury process
Supporting the Jury process and selection of Jury members
The project team for developing the Jersey Assisted Dying Citizens’ Jury included members of Government of Jersey policy team, Involve and the Sortition Foundation.
The role of the independent public participation charity Involve was to support the design and set up of the process. They also liaise with participants, facilitate the Jury sessions and will support participants to report back their recommendations to the States Assembly.
The Sortition Foundation led the random selection of people to take part in the Jury, in a way that is broadly representative of the Island's population.
Independent advisory panel
An independent advisory panel was set up to oversee the planning for the Jury and ensure the integrity of the process. The members of the advisory panel are:
- Gillian Arthur, MBE
- Michael De La Haye, OBE
- James Le Feuvre
- Dr Helen Miles
The Panel has met 5 times. Notes of these sessions can be accessed below. The role of the panel is to help maintain the integrity of the Jury process. The Panel will provide advice to the project team (Government of Jersey Policy staff and Involve) to ensure that the Citizens’ Jury is balanced, robust and the process of evidence selection is comprehensive. Further detail can be found in their Terms of Reference.
Independent Advisory Panel meetings
Independent advisory panel terms of reference
Meeting 1 minutes 24 November 2020
Meeting 2 minutes 8 December 2020
Meeting 3 minutes 13 January 2021
Meeting 4 minutes 16 February 2021
Meeting 5 minutes 11 March 2021
Three independent subject matter experts supported the project team and the Independent Advisory Panel to ensure that the design of the Jury sessions were balanced, robust and comprehensive in terms of the overall content, selection of speakers and the evidence presented to Jury members. They were selected for both their subject expertise, but also their range of personal positions on the subject of assisted dying.
- Professor Richard Huxtable
- Professor Emily Jackson
- Professor David Jones
Professor Richard Huxtable
Professor Huxtable is a Professor of Medical Ethics and Law, and the Director of the Centre for Ethics in Medicine, in the Medical School at the University of Bristol. His research primarily concerns legal and ethical issues in end of life decision making, clinical ethics, and surgery. He is the author of numerous publications in medical ethics and law, including a book for a general readership, Euthanasia: All That Matters (Hodder, 2013). Richard serves on a range of ethics committees, including for the British Medical Association and Royal College of General Practitioners, and he is also leading a major project exploring “best interests” decision making in healthcare.
Professor Emily Jackson
Professor Jackson is a Professor within the Department of Law at London School of Economics. Emily’s research interests are in the field of medical law. She is a member of the British Medical Association Medical Ethics Committee, and from 2008 to 2012, she was Deputy Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. In 2013, she was a member of the Independent Panel appointed to review the Liverpool Care Pathway. From 2014 to 2017, she was a Judicial Appointments Commissioner. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, and in 2017 was awarded an OBE for services to higher education.
Professor David Jones
David Albert Jones is Director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, Oxford. He is also a Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University and Professor of Bioethics at St Mary's University, Twickenham.
He was a member of a working party of the General Medical Council which helped draft its 2010 guidance on Treatment and Care Towards the End of Life. He is Vice Chair of the Ministry of Defence Research Ethics Committee. He is a member of the Healthcare Executive Group and the Department of Social Justice of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. His most recent book, co edited with Chris Gastmans and Calum MacKellar is Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Lessons from Belgium.
The project team will be supported by two expert advisors, to support the design and delivery of the sessions in a more ‘hands on’ role. They'll attend the jury sessions to support participants with questions and clarifications on the subject. The expert advisors are:
- Dr Alexandra Mullock, Senior Lecturer in Medical Law at the University of Manchester
- Professor Suzanne Ost, Law School Lancaster University
Dr Alexandra Mullock
Dr Mullock is a Senior Lecturer in Medical Law at the University of Manchester. Her research interests focus mainly on End of Life Law, the legitimacy of ethically contentious medical interventions and the regulation of health care professionals via the criminal law. She has recently collaborated on a series of articles exploring reproductive regulation and ethics, and she is the co author of two edited books: The Legitimacy of Medical Treatment: What Role for the Medical Exception? (Routledge 2015), and Pioneering Healthcare Law: Essays in honour of Margaret Brazier, (Routledge 2015).
Professor Suzanne Ost
Professor Ost is a Professor of Law in the Law School at Lancaster University. Her research interests focus on health care/medical law and bioethics. From 2011 to 2020, she was Editor in Chief of the Medical Law Review journal. Her publications include Medicine and Bioethics in the Theatre of the Criminal Process (Cambridge University Press 2013, with Margaret Brazier) and her forthcoming book, Exploitation, Ethics and Law: Violating the Ethos of the Doctor, patient Relationship? (Routledge 2021, with Hazel Biggs).
Expert Advisor and Content Oversight Roles