Reasons to change
there is a gap in our care system
Even the best palliative care in the world isn't capable of helping everyone. That is a fact acknowledged by the entire medical profession. To those who oppose assisted dying, we ask the question: what are you going to do to help these people?
Many people experience only partial pain relief. Some people experience no pain relief at all. Just as importantly, palliative care cannot help with issues such as autonomy and control.
our current laws are failing
Section 5(1) of the Homicide and Suicide (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2006 makes it an offence for anyone who aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide. This crime is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
We do not believe this law was created to
- Stop physicians from reducing suffering prior to an inevitable and imminent death, or
- Stop patients from directing their own medical care
The result of this law and similar laws throughout the British Isles is that one person travels to Dignitas in Switzerland every week at the cost of £10000. Our laws mean that only the wealthy can afford a dignified death.
Furthermore, research from the UK suggests that more than 300 terminally ill people commit suicide every year. Clearly, they do so without the comfort and safety that a well regulated assisted dying regime would provide.
Terminally ill people who commit suicide often do so without having spoken to their family beforehand for fear of implicating their loved ones in a crime.
Sue Rodrigues, a Canadian right-to-die activist who died in 1994 once said
"If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?"
In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada found that the ban on assisted dying unjustifiably infringed upon Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Section 7 of that Charter says that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice”.
The wording is similar in effect to Article 8 of the ECHR, which says “everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence”.
morality AND COMPASSION
Some people believe that forcing someone to live and suffer against their wishes is somehow moral and compassionate. We abhor this notion.
Under the status quo, patients beyond the reach of palliative care can
- refuse food and water: they literally wither away and starve to death, or
- opt for terminal sedation, whereby the patient is placed in a drug-induced coma until they succumb to their underlying illness
How can society allow this to happen but deny terminally ill, mentally competent adults the right to a peaceful and dignified death?