February 29, 2024

Ireland’s politicians are debating ‘dying with dignity’

Should people die on their own terms?

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Ireland’s journey down the path of progressive social legislation is proceeding at a dizzying pace. After legalising same-sex marriage in 2015 and abortion in 2018, the Oireachtas (legislature) has begun studying a “Dying with Dignity Bill”. It would allow doctors to kill patients if two of them agree that a patient met the criteria. The illness would have to be incurable, progressive, irreversible and terminal. There is no time limit, so the prospect of dementia could be reason enough to ask for death.

The bill, of course, is highly controversial. One of its sponsors, Richard Boyd Barrett, told the Daíl: “It is a question of whether life should end on their terms and whether they should have a choice about how their life should end so they can die with the utmost dignity and with as little pain and suffering as possible.”

Speaking against the bill, Peter Fitzpatrick, commented on the irony of debating a bill for helping the elderly ill to die during the Covid-19 pandemic when the whole country was focused on saving them.

“The facts show that in every country that has introduced similar laws to the ones proposed in this Bill, it is only a matter of time until there is unrestricted euthanasia. We have a suicide crisis at present and huge efforts are being made in the area of suicide prevention. Members should think of the mixed messages and signals this sends out to people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts to hear people on the radio and in the Dáil making the case for assisted suicide.”

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

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