Peer critical of ‘cart before horse’ assisted dying debate

 In Guernsey Press, Media, News

A PEER who was part of a parliamentary select committee which looked at assisted dying has been critical of the debate in the island.

Lord Carlile of Berriew – a member of the House of Lords and a Queen’s Counsel – had a letter published in The Times this week.

Following a requete lodged in February led by Deputy Gavin St Pier, the States will debate in May whether to agree in principle to assisted dying and appoint a working party to look at how to allow it to happen.

The former Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire and life peer denounced the fact that ‘Guernsey’s deputies… are being asked to decide whether or not to make such a change in the law on the basis of a single discussion’.

‘They would be well advised to look at the hard evidence of what has been happening in the small number of jurisdictions that have gone down the “assisted dying” road. Their experience is far from the rosy picture painted,’ he said.

Speaking to the Guernsey Press, Lord Carlile said the debate had bypassed the primary question of its necessity.

‘There are two essential questions to be answered in the debate on what is being called “assisted dying”. Are existing laws in this area in need of change? And, if so, is a law licensing doctors to supply or administer lethal drugs to incurably ill people the answer? My answer to both these questions is no.

‘The requete which has been put before the States of Guernsey asks deputies to agree in principle that the law should be changed and to concentrate their attention on the second question – how, rather than whether, the law should be changed. This is to put the cart before the horse.

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