Guernsey Set To Become First British Island To Have A Suicide Clinic
Guernsey may potentially become the first place in the British Isles to have its own suicide clinic ahead of a historic vote on the Channel Island.
Politicians are likely to vote on whether to allow terminally ill people to end their lives on the island, with the indication being that the move may well get the go-ahead, the Mirror has reported.
The move could pave the way to people on the UK mainland visiting the island in order to seek help to end their lives, with 'assisted dying' still illegal in the UK under the 1961 Suicide Act.
There is a growing clamour in the UK for assisted dying to be made legal as people looking to end their lives are currently forced to travel to countries where the practice is legal, such as Switzerland.
Guernsey's top minister Gavin St Pier is backing the proposal, which aims to allow the 'assisted dying' of terminally ill adults who have six months or less left to live and are mentally fit to make the decision themselves.
St Pier's father died nine years ago from cardiovascular disease, and he said that the manner of his dad's death was not 'comfortable', nor was it 'the death that he would have chosen from himself had he had the choice'.
St Pier said: "This is about giving people choice and a sense that they have some control themselves, rather than being frightened, out of control and in the hands of others. That for me is why it is such an important issue."
It's suggested that the cost of the suicide service could fall under the island's standard health service for its residents.
If passed, the law would not be enforced immediately - instead, the plans would be subject to an 18-month consultation to allow politicians to begin drawing up the law change.
Some of the highest priorities for the new law would be to protect vulnerable people and prevent the new legislation being abused. The question of whether doctors will be able to object to a patient's wishes would also be considered.
Guernsey is not technically part of the United Kingdom - although its residents are British citizens, the island's status as a British Crown Dependency allows it to set its own laws separate from the UK.
However, any new laws must be approved by the UK Privy Council, a body which evaluates the effect they may have on the UK.
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