November: Assisted dying ethical review | News and features

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The Minister for Health and Social Services has published the Assisted Dying in Jersey Ethical Review report, which has contributions by three experts of medical law and ethics
from the universities of Bristol, Manchester and Toronto.

Following the publishing of the Consultation Feedback Report in April this year, the Minister announced her intentions for ethical review to further inform detailed proposals for assisted dying in Jersey. The ethical review builds on the States Assembly “in principle” decision that assisted dying should be permitted in Jersey. It summarises ethical arguments on key aspects of assisted dying and maps these ethical considerations across the Jersey-specific proposals.

The review has been undertaken externally by three experts of medical law and ethics. The authors hold a range of views on assisted dying.

All three individuals have published work on the subject of assisted dying ethics and have contributed as specialist witnesses in the development of assisted dying legislation internationally.

They are:

  • Richard Huxtable, Professor of Medical Law and Ethics, and Director of the Centre for Ethics in Medicine, Medical School, University of Bristol, UK
  • Trudo Lemmens, Professor and Scholl Chair in Health Law and Policy, Faculty of Law and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada
  • Dr Alex Mullock, Senior Lecturer in Medical Law, and co-director of the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, School of Law, University of Manchester, UK

The Council of Ministers is preparing to lodge proposals for debate by the end of March 2024 with the intention to debate before the end summer 2024.

Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Karen Wilson, said: “I would like to thank the authors of the review for their work. This review will ensure that States Members are sighted on the range of complex ethical and moral considerations associated with these proposals. Over the coming months the Government will be working to progress the States Assembly’s ‘in principle’ decision, and lodge the detailed proposals in the new year.” 

Professor Richard Huxtable, lead author for the review at the University of Bristol, added: “My co-authors and I are pleased to have been able to undertake this review, which I hope will support Jersey to make this important decision.

“Assisted dying is a sensitive subject, on which views can differ considerably. Countries that allow assisted dying have also adopted different models, with different systems and safeguards.

“Our review draws on experiences elsewhere, and seeks to set out the diverse ethical considerations, with a view to helping Jersey to make the most ethically robust decision.”

Further information

The authors were selected because they hold a range of views on assisted dying:

  • Professor Huxtable is in favour of adopting a “middle ground” (or compromise) position on assisted dying, which seeks to accommodate arguments for and against allowing assisted dying;
  • Professor Lemmens has supported (including as an expert witness in litigation) a first Canadian law which allowed euthanasia and assisted suicide in a broad end-of-life context. He has become increasingly concerned about how assisted dying regimes develop over time, particularly when they allow direct administering of lethal medication by health care providers and have no specific terminal illness and prognosis of survival as safeguards. He is opposed to legalising the practice outside a clearly delineated end-of-life context and is concerned about the overall ability to monitor the practice;
  • Dr Mullock is broadly in favour of assisted dying as a compassionate response within a carefully regulated scheme that safeguards individuals who might be regarded as vulnerable if assisted dying is permitted.

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