Around 2,000 doctors, nurses and geriatricians have signed a petition calling on the Irish Parliament to reject attempts to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The Oireachtas is considering the Dying with Dignity Bill, but members of the Irish Palliative Medicine Consultants’ Association (IPMCA) say the risks of legalisation outweigh any benefit.
They have particularly taken issue with the name of the Bill, explaining people are already able to die with dignity in the Republic of Ireland due to the good quality of healthcare.
In the petition, the medics said they are “gravely concerned by the proposal to legislate for assisted suicide and euthanasia”.
They continued: “As healthcare professionals we have respect for each individual, value personal autonomy and also share an interest in protecting and advocating for people who are nearing the end of their lives and who may be vulnerable and at risk.
“We believe the bill creates risks for many receiving healthcare that outweigh any potential benefits. This concern is based on our collective experience over many decades of providing healthcare to people and their families in Ireland.”
The signatories also expressed their concern that changing the law might lead the vulnerable and elderly “to end their lives prematurely” so as not to be a “burden” to their families.
‘Unique inherent value’
The Christian Institute’s Northern Ireland Officer, Callum Webster, called the Bill “dangerous and chilling”.
“Every human life has a unique inherent value, no matter how old, ill or disabled that person might be. And they retain that value no matter how reliant on others they may become.
“Legalising assisted suicide or euthanasia would mean that, for the first time, Irish law accepts that some people’s lives no longer have any inherent value, and that it is in fact acceptable or even good to give them lethal medication.
“Once the boundary marker of assisted suicide or euthanasia has been crossed, it is not only difficult to go back, it is much easier to make further changes. If this Bill is passed, it will not be long before activists seek to amend and expand it.”