Guernsey is a small island in the British Isles, with a population of around 65,000 people.
Like in many other jurisdictions, there have been several attempts to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide on the island.
In these debates, no matter the jurisdictions, we hear the same arguments made in support of allowing legalised death: it will only be available to a small number of people in intolerable pain; it will prevent suicides; it will put an end to individual suffering.
Often not articulated are the economic considerations, either for children afflicted with ‘inheritance impatience’ who are waiting on an elderly parent to die, or from governments that are looking to save the healthcare cost to the budget.
Enter Deputy Lester Queripel, one of 40 Guernsey MPs, who did not seem to blush at the savings to be made by handing out lethal drugs.
According to the Guernsey Press:
“Lester Queripel has told the Health & Social Care Committee that the States’ financial problems provide an ideal opportunity to revisit the controversial issue.
“Deputy Queripel said that ‘no stone should be left unturned’ as committees battle to save millions of pounds a year in spending. And he urged HSC to accept that ‘considerable savings could be realised if assisted dying was to be introduced here in the island’.
“‘Those savings obviously wouldn’t just be exclusively financial, because islanders with terminal illnesses could be saved from months of unnecessary excruciating pain and suffering if they were permitted to end their own life whenever they choose to,’ he said.”
Queripel did not stop there, also asking questions on notice about how much the medication and treatment of people who had wanted euthanasia or assisted suicide in the past five years had cost taxpayers, and how many staff hours had been spent on them.
The report continued.
“‘They keep on saying they need to make savings, so I put in a simple question,’ said Deputy Queripel.
“‘They say we need to look at everything, so this is the next logical step.
“‘Many people don’t want to keep on living and I think we need to put a figure on that.’”
Queripel may be the most brazen about the financial motives behind legalising assisted suicide, but he is certainly not the first of his kind.
Recall Canada’s Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that an expansion of euthanasia from the terminally ill to the chronically ill would save around $58 million in health care costs each year. The law has now been expanded to cover the chronically ill and the disabled, and will soon expand even further to include those suffering from mental illness alone.
Once governments start putting a cost on people’s lives (and calculating the savings they would make if they were to be killed), then no one is safe. Each of us is just one or two economic crises away from becoming expendable.