‘Disabled people need support to live, not help to die’, Oireachtas told

A disability group has urged the Oireachtas to prioritise the “right to live” over the “right to die”.

Peter Kearns of the Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI) told an Oireachtas committee that many disabled people had huge concerns about the possible introduction of assisted suicide.

Campaigners for so-called ‘assisted dying’ want to enable terminally ill adults to get help to end their lives. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Assisted Dying is due to make recommendations on the issue by March.

‘Better off dead’

Kearns described the Oireachtas’s decision to fund a discussion on assisted suicide rather than disability support as “a worrying development”.

He warned that in other parts of the world where assisted suicide had been legalised, “disabled people frequently speak about feeling hopeless, ‘having nothing to live for’ or feeling they would be ‘better off dead’”.

Among those living with an impairment, he explained, many fear that their lives may be deemed “not worth living”.

He also encouraged the Committee “to be mindful of any discourse in relation to assisted dying that can trigger commentary with eugenic overtones”.

Palliative care

The disability campaigner continued: “Any discussion about dying with dignity needs to look at the resourcing for a high-quality palliative care system, which is respectful and supportive of people at the end of their lives”.

“The role that hospices play is vital in Irish society, yet they have to fundraise continuously. End of life care needs to be recognised as a vital part of our health care system and resourced accordingly.”

The largest body of doctors in Ireland recently urged the Oireachtas not to legalise euthanasia.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland is the country’s largest postgraduate medical training body and a professional body for medical doctors with over 11,000 members.

Also see:

Church leaders: ‘RoI must not undermine sanctity of life by legalising assisted suicide’

‘Don’t turn doctors into death givers’, Oireachtas committee warned

Former medic dubbed ‘Dr Death’ wants no restrictions for assisted suicide in Ireland

RoI urged to shun Netherlands’ euthanasia example

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