Assisted suicide safeguards eroded and criteria broadened in the countries where it has been operational ‘over time’
Assisted suicide and euthanasia safeguards have been eroded and criteria broadened in four places around the world where assisted suicide or euthanasia have been permitted over 9 years or more.
Following their open letter to islanders, Church leaders and Churches from across Guernsey were challenged by a subsequent letter sent to the Guernsey Press to outline in which jurisdictions there had been extension of the categories of those eligible for death.
The letter critiquing the Churches’ position highlights a number of countries that it says have introduced assisted suicide without any erosion of safeguards over time.
In response John Ogier, the leader of the Working Party who carried out the evidence research said:
“Of the list of jurisdictions, California, Washington DC, Colorado, Canada and Victoria in Australia have only made the change in the last year or two with the effect that the law in these jurisdictions has barely been implemented. Moreover, Montana has no legislation as such and Hawaii’s will not be implemented until next year.”
“This leaves a smaller group of jurisdictions that we had in view, namely Oregon (assisted suicide introduced in 1997), Belgium (euthanasia introduced in 2002), the Netherlands (euthanasia introduced in 2002), and Washington State (assisted suicide introduced in 2009), where there is scope for the ‘over time’ assessment to which the churches were referring.”
The Chair of the Working Party the Dean the V. Revd. Tim Barker commented: “Those arguing for a change in the law should look at the four places, where assisted suicide, or euthanasia has been legal for some time. Of these the experience of the Netherlands and Belgium is particularly relevant because only they allow lethal drugs to be administered by someone other than the person who is to die, an arrangement that the Requête asks to be considered.”
“In all four places, rules and practice have been changed and expanded.”
“In the Netherlands and Belgium, legislation that was only meant to apply to mentally competent terminally ill adults, has been extended to include the elderly, disabled people, those with mental health problems and even children and babies.
“While in Oregon and Washington – Oregon being oft-cited as the ideal model by those seeking to change the law – there has been a widening of conditions deemed eligible for assisted suicide over time, including illnesses that are not obviously terminal.”
The Churches will also send a copy of their letter to the island’s Deputies.
The Dean added: “Introducing assisted suicide or euthanasia risks putting pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives because of real or imagined fears of being a burden. This is why we believe that the safest law is the one we currently have – a law that treats all of us the same, regardless of age, infirmity, illness or disability.”