A public consultation to inform a proposed law change that would allow assisted dying in the island has opened.

The private member’s bill is to enable adults who are terminally ill to be provided at their request with specified assistance to end their own life.

Ramsey MHK Alex Allinson introduced the bill to the House of Keys on June 14 of this year.

Mr Allinson said the aim of the consultation is to ‘explore some of the policies and procedures involved in drafting such a bill before it can be created and bought back to Tynwald for democratic debate’.

An opinion poll last year found that 87% of islanders support a change in the law on assisted dying to allow this option for terminally ill, mentally competent adults.

Campaigning organisation Dignity in Dying said it applauds the proposal.

Chief executive Sarah Wootton said: ‘This consultation is a key milestone on the road to assisted dying reform in the Isle of Man and across the British Isles.

‘We applaud the House of Keys for giving the Manx public the opportunity to be heard on this historic issue – the vast majority of whom want to see a safe, compassionate assisted dying law for the island.

‘We hope MHKs will now ensure that the voices of dying people and bereaved relatives are front and centre in this debate.

‘The Isle of Man joins Jersey and Scotland in taking strides towards true choice at the end of life for its citizens. Westminster should question why it chooses to maintain a blanket ban on assisted dying when politicians across the British Isles recognise that it simply does not work.’

Tynwald has discussed the issues around assisted dying a number of times in the past 20 years.

‘There have been Tynwald petitions, affirmative motions by Junior Tynwald, and in February 2015, the Honourable Member for Rushen Juan Watterson asked for leave to introduce a bill to amend the law with respect to assisted dying which was not supported at that time,’ said Dr Allinson.

When the Ramsey MHK introduced the proposed laws this year, the majority of the House of Keys voted to allow them to be drafted.

However, there were concerns about safeguarding, consent, and if the health service could deal with the changes needed.

Dr Allinson said the changes would give those who are terminally ill ‘a real choice’ and that this legislation would support them and give them ‘control’ of their own death ‘if they decided their suffering is unbearable’.

The consultation period began on December 1 and runs for eight weeks. It can be accessed online at https://consult.gov.im/private-members/assisted-dying/