Jersey Youth Assembly vote against assisted dying

Youth Assembly. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (37757017)

A MONTH before Jersey’s politicians debate the fine details of assisted dying legislation, their junior counterparts voted that the service should not be legalised.

Teams from Jersey College for Girls, Victoria College, Beaulieu Convent School, De La Salle College and Hautlieu lined up to grill ministers yesterday afternoon for the 26th Annual Youth Assembly.

Topics being debated included whether Jersey should introduce mandatory education or training until the age of 18 and whether tobacco and vapes should be banned for those born after 2009.

The students also asked a series of prepared questions on care providers, plastic-free packaging, lowering the age for mammogram screenings, housing affordability for young people, ADHD medication and more.

Some of those in the hot seat included previous members of the Youth Assembly Deputies Sam Mézec and Alex Curtis – and students asked Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham questions without notice for up to 15 minutes.

Maria Stugariu, from Hautlieu, proposed the topic of euthanasia, asking the Assembly whether it should be legalised to provide individuals with the right to die with dignity.

She said: “Euthanasia, at its core, revolves around the right of autonomy. By legalising it, we would empower individuals facing unbearable suffering to make their own end-of-life decisions, providing a compassionate option for terminally ill patients.

“The legality of euthanasia has been debated and considered, yet nothing has changed. It is time to engage in a thoughtful discussion on this matter, exploring the potential benefits and risks of legalising euthanasia and ultimately striving for a more humane and compassionate approach to end-of-life care.”

However, her proposition was defeated by nine votes to five, with one abstention, following strong arguments from opposing teams.

In May, the elected Members of the States Assembly will be asked to decide whether assisted dying legislation should be limited to those with terminal conditions causing unbearable suffering, or whether it should also cover individuals with incurable conditions causing unbearable suffering.

The details were published in a Council of Ministers’ proposition lodged last week – just over two years after the States became the first parliament in the British Isles to vote in-principle to approve assisted dying.

If the proposition is approved, assisted dying could become available in the second half of 2027.

Greffier Lisa Hart said that the Youth Assembly provided an “invaluable opportunity” for Jersey’s young people to have “a formal, political debate in the States Chamber and to ask questions and hold debates on topics they care about”.

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