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Guernsey Deputy touts financial gains from assisted suicide

Lester Queripel, a Deputy in the States of Guernsey, has said that assisted suicide should be considered as a cost-saving measure, as the States try to save millions of pounds.

Queripel, Vice-President of the States’ Assembly & Constitution Committee, has made headlines for telling the Health & Social Care Committee that the question of legalising assisted suicide should be revisited as the States face financial difficulties.

The Deputy for St Peter Port North argued to the committee that “considerable savings could be realised if assisted dying was to be introduced here in the island”.

Earlier this year, Government accounts revealed that Guernsey has a £135 million deficit. Towards the end of August, Queripel suggested that savings could be made from ending the lives of Guernseymen through assisted suicide. “Many people don’t want to keep on living and I think we need to put a figure on that”, he declared.

Firm rebuke from Health & Social Care Committee President

In written questions to the Health & Social Care Committee (HSC), Deputy Queripel asked how many people in the last five years had been kept alive against their wishes, and how much this had cost in terms of medication, hospital treatment, and staffing hours.

The President of the Health & Social Care (HSC) Committee, Deputy Al Brouard, stated that such figures were not available and chastised Deputy Queripel for his choice of language.

“From a HSC perspective, consideration of assisted dying should be from the core principles of health, dignity and pain management”, he said.

“HSC considers that discussing such an important and emotive subject through an economic or financial lens is inappropriate. The committee does not support the terminology being used in this question”.

Assisted suicide in Guernsey

The last attempt to legalise assisted suicide in Guernsey was in May 2018. The proposed Bill was rejected by a vote of 24 to 14. If it had passed, Guernsey would have become the first place in the British Isles to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia for terminal illness.

Deputy Queripel is not the first person to argue for assisted suicide on the grounds of financial gains. In 2020, a paper was published in the Journal of Clinical Ethics that laid out the cost-saving potential of assisted suicide.

In the same year, the Parliamentary Budget Officer for the Canadian Parliament produced a report that stated that the Government was saving $86.9 million through assisted suicide and euthanasia and would make a further $62 million of savings if the law was expanded.

Shockingly, a 2023 survey of 1,000 Canadians showed that 27% of them supported legalising assisted suicide and euthanasia for poverty.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said “The chilling logic of assisted suicide is on full display in Deputy Queripel’s statements. People who are sick and suffering should not be reduced to a cost saving on a spreadsheet. Each person has an intrinsic value that cannot be reduced to a price tag”. 

“A society that wants to reduce its financial burdens by ending the lives of its citizens is one to be greatly feared. The people of Guernsey must reject any attempts to legalise assisted suicide and, in doing so, protect the most vulnerable”.

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