A bill to legalise assisted dying on the Isle of Man is set to go before a committee moving to the next stage at the island’s Parliament, according to one of the doctors behind the legislation.
The bill – in the form it is at the moment - would apply only to those who have lived on the island for a year, are terminally ill, and are reasonably expected only to live for another six months.
There was a vote earlier today (Tuesday 7 November) on whether the bill should be put before a smaller committee before the 14 clauses are debated by the wider parliament, the Tynwald.
Members of the House of Keys (MHK), as the members of Parliament are called, voted for the committee to scrutinise the bill further, said Dr Alex Allinson.
Allinson has brought the bill himself as part of his remit as the MHK for Ramsey, and will form part of the scrutiny committee, along with four other MHKs.
They will look over the bill before reporting back in February.
After that, if the bill proceeds, it will enter the clauses stage, whereby each part of the bill will receive scrutiny from the whole parliament.
This is also the stage at which amendments can be suggested.
After the vote on Tuesday, Allinson told PA News Agency: “The House of Keys, whilst supportive of the Assisted Dying Bill, has decided to establish a committee of five Members to examine the clauses and report back in February.
“I look forward to working with the other members of this committee to refine the Bill and ensure it provides the basis for greater choice and compassion for those terminally ill on the Isle of Man.”
The practising GP said that he wouldn’t expect the legislation, should the bill pass and be given royal assent, to come into effect for ‘at least two years’.
In the debate, opposing members said that the legislation could bring about a ‘radical change’ to the island, as well as others who called for ‘robust safeguards’ to be put in place.
There have also been calls to increase the amount of time that people must have lived on the islands in order to be eligible.
Dr Allinson admits that the legislation must be only for those who are resident on the Isle of Man, so as not to ‘satisfy the needs of people in other neighbouring jurisdictions’.
Previously, he had said: “But I think what it does show is that appetite amongst our public, and their elected representatives, to bring forward progressive legislation that will provide for assisted dying.”
In the UK, it carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
In Scotland, it is not a specific criminal offence, but can open anyone assisting someone else dying to charges of murder or other charges.Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Images