Jersey politicians have approved the principle of legalised assisted dying which would allow some terminally ill patients to end their lives.

The vote by Jersey politicians found 36 in favour, 10 against and three absent. This vote represents a historic movement which could eventually see assisted dying legalised in the island by 2023.

BBC says the debate was called after 78% of the citizens’ jury, made up of islanders who were asked to apply, ruled it was in favour of changing the law.

The process involves prescribing legal drugs using medical supervision to induce voluntary euthanasia. The patient can choose to end their life in instances where they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness or has an incurable physical condition, both causing extreme chronic suffering that cannot be alleviated.

A registered medical professional should be able to assist, but they are not under a legal duty to do so. An article from The Conversation discusses the mental strain on Healthcare professionals, who often have to overcome their unease at being involved with an assisted death while trying to honour the patient’s wishes.

The principles agreed by Jersey politicians’ state the scheme is only open to island residents aged 18 and over who have the capacity to make the decision. The individual must have a voluntary, clear informed wish to end their own life due to unbearable suffering.

A set of safeguarding rules have been drawn up, including a pre-approval process, period of reflection and pre-approved locations. The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf spoke against the proposals and said “Safeguards can be built up and to the best of our ability, but none of them can be truly effective”.

During the debate States Deputy Louise Doublet said “We must recognize the elderly and vulnerable have inherent value as human beings and ensure they have a place in our society. We can do that and look after the rights of those who are suffering unbearably“.

There will be further debates next year on the issues including two further separate votes to be held following discussions. Those opposed to assisted dying are certain to continue campaigning, while for those who have long called for the law to be changed, this will be seen as a major step forward.

It seems Jersey is setting the president as politician’s on the Isle of Man are also considering exploring assisted dying laws. Dr Alex Allinson, who previously raised the subject prior to the coronavirus pandemic, said terminally ill people should be given “autonomy”.