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UK News

Jersey jury votes in favour of changing assisted dying law

by Press Association

Jersey has moved closer to allowing assisted dying after a citizens' jury voted in favour of changing the law.

A report by the Jersey Assisted Dying Citizens' Jury said 78 per cent of its members - or 18 of the 23 islanders randomly chosen -  voted to permit assisted dying on the island.

The jury, which met over 10 online sessions through the spring, called for terminally ill islanders to be able to end their own lives, based on circumstances and certain safeguards.

As a crown dependency, Jersey is able to legislate on assisted dying separately from the UK.

A private member's bill to legalise assisted dying in England and Wales was read in the Lords for the first time last month, while a similar bill was launched in Scotland on Tuesday.

A cross-party group of more than 50 MPs and peers in April called for the Government to instigate a review of the UK's assisted dying laws.

The joint letter from parliamentarians to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland argued the UK was "falling behind the rest of the world".

Then health secretary Matt Hancock reportedly wrote to national statistician Sir Ian Diamond in May to ask for data on the number of Britons who kill themselves after being diagnosed with a terminal medical condition.

Mr Hancock said he wanted the figures to inform a new debate on legalising doctor-assisted suicide in the UK.

During the bill's first reading in the House of Lords in May, Bishop Mark Davis, the Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury, said in a statement that a change in the law would harm the sick and aged: "The Bill comes at the end of a public health crisis where all our efforts have been directed towards safeguarding the vulnerable. During this past year we have been reminded how the true measure of a society is seen in how we safeguard and care for the sick, the aged and those nearing the end of their lives. To remove legal protections in legislating for assisted suicide, will take away a shield from some of the most vulnerable members of society," he said.

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