Falklands Islands votes in favour of assisted dying motions

Posted On: 
26th July 2018

The Falkland Islands have today been shown to be a compassionate, sensible and progressive society which cares deeply about its terminally ill citizens and rightly feels that they deserve better, says Dignity in Dying.

The Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands has today (Thursday 26 July 2018) voted to support a motion that terminally ill residents should have the right to die at a time and place of their choosing, subject to robust legislation and safeguards. A second motion stated that should assisted dying legislation be introduced in the UK, the Falkland Islands would consider adopting it. Both motions passed by four votes to three with one abstention.

The motions were brought by Member of the Legislative Assembly Dr Barry Elsby, inspired by an assisted dying debate in the Channel Island of Guernsey earlier this year. Despite high public support, Guernsey Deputies rejected assisted dying proposals by 24 votes to 16, following three days of debate in May 2018.

While the motions in Guernsey were defeated, the debate on the island demonstrated, through the positive engagement of the Royal College of Physicians and the General Medical Council, that the medical community can and will provide guidance for health care professionals in the event of law change, paving the way for future progress in the British Isles.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for a change in the law on assisted dying in the UK, said:

“The Falkland Islands have today been shown to be a compassionate, sensible and progressive society which cares deeply about its terminally ill citizens and rightly feels that they deserve better.

“Assembly members have clearly listened to the views of their citizens, who, according to a recent public meeting on the subject, overwhelmingly support the rights of terminally ill people to die on their own terms. This is something MPs in Westminster failed to do in 2015 as did Deputies in Guernsey earlier this year, though Guernsey’s debate has clearly been a driving force for change in other Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, including Jersey.

“Meanwhile, in the UK, many dying people will continue to endure unbearable suffering in their final months or be forced take matters into their own hands at home or in Switzerland. We urge our elected representatives to take note of today’s news and question why they continue to drag their heels on this crucial issue when momentum is building around the world. It is clear that change must and will come to the British Isles - the only question is ‘when’.”

Dignity in Dying is currently supporting Noel Conway, a 68-year-old man with terminal motor neurone disease, to bring a judicial review challenging the current law which prevents him from accessing an assisted death if he is suffering unbearably in his final months. Following a rejection by the Court of Appeal last month, Mr Conway and his legal team will now appeal to the Supreme Court.