A proposal to allow physician-assisted suicide has failed for the second time in Ireland’s legislature. According to Newstalk, the Justice Department has decided to scrap the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020 nearly 10 months after it was first introduced. The bill would have allowed terminally ill individuals to end their own lives with the help of a physician. While the bill may be considered in the future by a special committee, pro-life advocates who have spent months campaigning against it are viewing the bill’s failure as a cause for celebration.
Those who fought for the bill say that its failure was due more to faulty wording rather than the subject matter. “The bill itself wasn’t for purpose to progress, unfortunately as a piece of legislation, it didn’t stack up. It wasn’t robust enough, there were a number of drafting errors, there were a number of technical legal errors,” said chair of the Justice Committee, James Lawless. Lawless said that the Irish bill was only four or five pages, in comparison to a similar New Zealand bill that ran around 240 pages. “So we said ‘Look, it’s a very important issue, very glad we had the debate, very glad we had the opportunity to look at it’ but this needs to be done properly,” he said.
Throughout the legislative process, many pro-life advocates campaigned against the bill, arguing that it did not provide nearly enough protections for the frail and elderly who may be coerced into suicide. Aleteia reports that earlier this month, the Committee on Justice issued a report noting, “A point that was repeated frequently throughout submissions in all categories was concern that this Bill could result in abuse of the sick and vulnerable, who may perceive themselves to be a burden on their family and feel pressured into opting for assisted dying.”
While the bill’s backers are hopeful that it can be reworked for future consideration, recent studies show that not everyone in Ireland is onboard with the idea of assisted suicide. Scientists at The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) recently found that 72% of ill people who express a wish to die eventually change their minds. This is an important finding because it shows that the right care and treatment can make all the difference for someone facing a terminal illness or chronic pain. Furthermore, a study released in the Irish Medical Journal found that only 17% of physicians are in favor of physician-assisted suicide.
While proponents of assisted suicide view it as compassionate care, the reality is that killing someone is never compassion. Instead, what terminally ill people need is better comprehensive palliative treatment. For now, the people of Ireland have the opportunity to focus their efforts on this type of care without the looming threat of physician-assisted suicide as an option.
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