A coalition of campaigners have spoken out against Ireland’s proposed euthanasia bill, calling it ‘dangerous’ and claiming it will undermine palliative end-of-life care for vulnerable people.
The Dying with Dignity Bill, which is going through the Irish parliament, aims to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide in the Republic of Ireland.
It also contains provisions enabling people living in Northern Ireland to travel to Ireland to have their lives ended.
But the bill has been condemned widely by many pro-life campaigners, including UK peer Baroness Finlay of Llandaff (pictured).
Speaking at the End of Life Matters conference, hosted by the Hope Ireland coalition, she branded the legislation harmful and discriminatory, and would put vulnerable people at risk of being coerced.
She told delegates 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.
Furthermore, to the wording of the bill, she commented, ‘You could shoot holes in just about every line of it’, with terms such as ‘terminally ill’ and ‘clear and settled intention’ being subjective and imprecise.
While some European Union countries have made euthanasia legal, some courts have recently taken steps to protect the most vulnerable from such legislation.
In Portugal, the country’s Constitutional Court recently blocked new laws which would have seen the introduction of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The court rejected it with a 7-5 vote, stating that the law was imprecise in identifying the circumstances under which such procedures could occur.
The governing Socialist Party, which introduced the bill, now has to reword it before it goes back to another vote.
If it is passed, Portugal will become the fourth EU country to legalise euthanasia, along with Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.