Ireland’s proposed euthanasia Bill is “dangerous” and will undermine palliative end-of-life care, campaigners have warned.
Speakers at the End of Life Matters conference, hosted by the Hope Ireland coalition, said the legislation is harmful and discriminatory.
The Irish Parliament is considering the Dying with Dignity Bill, which would legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide in the Republic of Ireland. If passed, NI residents could also travel to the South to be killed.
Among the speakers at the conference was UK Peer Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, who said the Bill risks vulnerable adults being coerced into ending their lives.
She explained that in each country where end-of-life law had changed, the numbers of those ending their lives through assisted suicide or euthanasia continually increased – despite activists’ claims that such legislation would only be for rare instances.
Lady Finlay also pointed out that a ‘cooling-off’ period of just six days after making a request for assisted suicide or euthanasia would take no account of how commonly patients change their minds over end-of-life care.
Referring to the wording of the Bill, Lady Finlay said that “you could shoot holes in just about every line of it”.
not so much a slippery slope as a push off a cliff
She highlighted that terms such as “terminally ill” and “clear and settled intention” are subjective and imprecise.
The peer stressed that doctors can not know for certain how long someone will live, citing the experience of disability champion Baroness Campbell, 61, who has been “deemed to be terminally ill” from the age of 15.
‘Push off a cliff’
Writing for The Irish Times, Breda O’Brien warned of the impact such legislation would have on the country.
She argued that the Bill is “not so much a slippery slope as a push off a cliff”.
O’Brien also said it was “ironic” that the Bill was being pushed “at a time when medicine has been forced to re-discover on a daily basis that it is difficult, if not impossible, to decide when anyone will die”.
In Portugal, the country’s Constitutional Court recently blocked new legislation which would have seen the introduction of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Rejecting it in a 7-5 vote, the court said in a statement that the law was imprecise in identifying the circumstances under which such procedures could occur.