18 February 2019
The Council of Ministers has agreed to commission detailed research into end-of-life choices in Jersey, including issues associated with assisted dying and dying well.
In answering a States of Jersey petition, the Health Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf, said that, due to the complexity, sensitivity and gravity of the issue, it should first be considered by the Council of Ministers, with the necessary time provided to prepare an informed discussion.
When discussing the matter, Ministers agreed they wanted to understand the legal and practical implications of extended end-of-life choices. They have therefore agreed to an investigation that would bring together the work already done by other British and wider international jurisdictions on issues such as eligibility criteria, protection for patients, registration of medical practitioners and ethical codes of conduct.
Ministers understand that there are significant, challenging ethical discussions associated with end-of-life choices and, once the legal, ethical and practical issues have been considered in a local context, they intend to extend the work to include public consultation.
The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said: “This is a sensitive and challenging subject, and we need to understand not only the ethical, legal and social consequences, but also any potential ramifications on our relationship with the UK.
“When the Health Minister brought this matter to the Council of Ministers for consideration, we agreed we would draw on the extensive work already done in other parts of the British Isles, and develop a clear view on the issue before consulting islanders. Once we have a better understanding of the research already carried out by neighbouring jurisdictions, we will proceed to a public consultation on the options and their implications.”
Deputy Renouf said: “Much of the debate in other jurisdictions has been underpinned by shared values of care, freedom of choice and compassion. It is these shared values that we should now draw on in reviewing our own laws on end-of-life care to understand if a change is needed, and, if so, how to make that change."