Shropshire Star

Isle of Man takes another step towards assisted dying law

Legislation on assisted dying is currently also being considered in Scotland and Jersey.

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Dr Alex Allinson, a Member of the Isle of Man's parliament, stands with a pro-assisted dying sign

The Isle of Man has taken another step towards becoming the first part of the British Isles to have an assisted dying law, after a key stage in the legislative process was completed.

Following seven days of debate across three months, the Assisted Dying Bill’s clauses stage finished on Tuesday, with a third reading of the Bill expected later this month.

As it stands, the Bill is only for adults who have been resident on the island for five years, have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of no more than 12 months, and who have a settled intention to end their life.

Other measures around ensuring legal and workplace protection for medical professionals who participate in assisted dying have also been agreed, while a request from the British Medical Association (BMA) for an opt-in model for doctors who choose to be part of the service was approved.

Meanwhile, a move to make it separate from the island’s public health service, Manx Care, was voted down, as was a move to hold a referendum before a new law could take effect.

Dr Alex Allinson, the Member of the House of Keys (MHK) behind the Bill, said he is “grateful” further amendments have been proposed and accepted, which he said will “reinforce safeguards” in the new legislation.

He said debate has been thorough and that, while he respects the views of those who remain opposed to change, there is a “significant majority of Members who are now content with the way the Bill has been changed to agree a third reading”.

He told the PA news agency: “We certainly are still in the position of being the first (place) in the British Isles to bring legislation forward for royal assent.

“But there will need to be quite a long implementation period, including conversations and working with people like the General Medical Council (GMC) and the BMA to make this Bill operational.”

The third reading is due to begin on July 23.

Campaigners have said if the Bill gains royal assent next year, assisted dying could be available to eligible Manx residents from 2027.

Legislation on assisted dying is currently also being considered in Scotland and Jersey.

Before coming to power, new Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer said he is “committed” to allowing a vote on legalising assisted dying.

Campaigners opposed to a change in the law have voiced concerns that legalising assisted dying could put pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a burden on others, and argue that the disabled, elderly, sick or depressed could be especially at risk.

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