After legalizing abortion just two years ago, euthanasia seems to be next on the agenda in Ireland. A bill to make assisted suicide legal has been reintroduced three years after first being presented and failing.
The Dying with Dignity Bill is currently before the Dáil Éireann, the assembly of Ireland, after having been introduced on September 15th. According to The Journal, it could come under debate within a week. It would allow people who have a terminal illness and are over the age of 18 to undergo either assisted suicide or euthanasia. Currently, both are illegal, though suicide itself is not a criminal act. There is no time requirement as to when the person will die from the terminal illness, unlike other assisted suicide laws. (Read more here about the meaning of “terminal illness.”)
Gino Kenny, who introduced the legislation, said he wants the bill to be brought under consideration quickly. “If the Dying with Dignity Bill was legislated for, it would give those with an incurable and progressive illness the choice to end their own life on their own terms. Some people won’t do this but some people will and in order to do this the law needs to change,” he told Ireland’s Q102. “I think public debate and engagement is extremely important on this issue. Polls that have been done over the last few years have stated that public opinion is in favour of assisted dying. So it’s very important that debate begins in earnest.” Irish Central reported that, worryingly, the bill has growing support from all three major political parties.
Some, however, have come out against the bill. Professor Anthony O’Brien, a Clinical Professor of Palliative Medicine at University College Cork, wrote a letter to the Irish Times opposing assisted suicide and euthanasia. “I have worked in hospice care for over 35 years. I have met very many patients who in desperation asked to have their life ended, believing that they had no other option,” he wrote. “With good palliative care, the overwhelming majority had occasion to change their minds. With suicide, there is no going back. Surely a compassionate society can be more creative in its response to human suffering than premature, self-inflicted death. Good care is always a better option.”
Irish pro-lifers have been readying themselves for this fight, as polling has found that a majority of people support legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia. Yet other countries who began as Ireland is — with the promise of stringent safeguards to prevent abuses — have quickly seen those safeguards fall by the wayside as the culture of death advanced.
The Netherlands, for example, now has a troubling statistic to reckon with: over a quarter of all deaths in the country are induced, when just two decades ago, assisted suicide was made legal with safeguards in place and only “hard cases” in mind. Now, however, people are forcibly euthanized even as they fight back, and there are waiting lists to be euthanized over mental illness. Canada legalized assisted suicide in 2015, and in just five years, nearly 4,000 people have taken their own lives. Doctors are pressuring parents to euthanize their disabled children, and Catholic hospitals are being forced to participate in assisted suicide against their will. Belgium is another horrifying example, where now, even children can be euthanized.
Is Ireland prepared to fall this far, this quickly? Within a few short years, the once pro-life country will have legalized state-sanctioned death, with abortion and euthanasia serving as one-two punches passed nearly back-to-back. The Ireland that so recently honored the sanctity of life, protecting the vulnerable at all ages, has seemingly become unrecognizable.
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