Disappointment as Isle of Man moves closer to legalising assisted suicide

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Anti-euthanasia campaigners have expressed disappointment after the Isle of Man moved closer to legalising assisted suicide for terminally ill adults.

Seventeen members of the House of Keys, the island's parliament, voted in favour of moving the Assisted Dying Bill on to the next legislative stage, against seven who opposed it.

The bill, if passed in its current form, would allow assisted suicide for terminally ill adults who have been "ordinarily resident" on the island for at least a year and who are expected to die within six months.

The bill was introduced by local GP, Dr Alex Allinson, who said it would give terminally ill people on the Isle of Man "much-needed choice and protection at the end of life".

Care Not Killing (CNK), a coalition of health practitioners opposed to assisted suicide, called the vote "disappointing".

CNK CEO Dr Gordon Macdonald urged the Isle of Man to "pull back from this dangerous and ideological policy" and instead focus on providing high quality palliative care.

He pointed to countries like Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium, where criteria to qualify for assisted suicide has been increasingly expanded over the years beyond terminally ill people.

"As we see in a small number of places that have removed long term universal protections, by allowing the deliberate ending of human life with death row drugs, many vulnerable people will feel pressured into ending their lives," he said.

"This is exactly what we see in Canada, which introduced euthanasia in 2016, where thousands who are killed annually cite fear of being a burden or loneliness as a reason.

"There are other problems too. As we see in the Netherlands and Belgium limits on who qualifies for a lethal injection have been swept away. No longer is state aided killing limited to those with less than six months to live, but routinely includes disabled people, those with chronic non-terminal conditions and individuals with mental health problems, such as patients with dementia, treatable depression, anorexia even a victim of sexual abuse."