Ireland is currently sleepwalking into legalising Assisted Suicide, and TDs need to realise that they are endangering vulnerable people by supporting this measure. So say the organisers of a major conference presenting ‘The Case Against Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia’ this weekend, which will feature medical and legal experts and include personal testimonies from people who were negatively impacted by laws permitting a doctor to help vulnerable people end their lives.

“While the country was occupied with the Covid-19 crisis, TDs voted in favour of approving the second stage of a bill which would make Assisted Suicide legal in Ireland. This means doctors can help end their patient’s lives, and that the sick, the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable will be endangered,” said Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute which is organising the Do No Harm online event on Saturday.

 

 

She said that Palliative Care consultants in Ireland were critical of the absence of any informed debate on the issue, and that those medical experts who were most experienced in alleviating pain or distress at end of life remained strongly opposed to Assisted Suicide.

“The Irish Palliative Medicine Consultants Association have polled their members, and found that 88% of the doctors who are most expert on this issue are opposed to Assisted Suicide, because, they say modern medicine can manage pain and distress. Yet this is almost unknown by the Irish public who have heard only one side of the debate thus far,” she said.

Ms Uí Bhriain said that only a handful of other countries had legalised Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, and the negative consequences arising for vulnerable people were already becoming evident – as were the steeply rising rates of people being killed by Assisted Suicide each year.

“Neither are people aware that the rate of Assisted Suicide rose five fold in just four years in Canada, or that insurance companies have now regularly refused to pay for cancer treatments but have offered to pay the cost of assisted suicide for the same patients,” she said.

“Yet our TDs are rushing to legalise this dangerous legislation without an open discussion of the facts or the experience of other countries.”
Amongst the speakers at Saturday’s conference is Prof Theo Boer, an ethicist who sat on an euthanasia review panel in the Netherlands for 10 years, but whose experiences have now led him to oppose legalised Assisted suicide. Prof Boer says that his experience has led him to estimate that 1 in every 5 people dying by assisted suicide come under pressure to do so.

Also speaking at the Do No Harm event are palliative care consultant Dr Pauline Kane, who will address how modern medicine already affords dignity in dying, and Prof Patricia Casey, a renowned psychiatrist who will talk about the contagion effect of Assisted Suicide.

Barrister Maria Steen will address legal questions around the issue, and the conference will host powerful personal testimonies from people who have been endangered or negatively affected by the legalisation of Assisted Suicide.

“This is a key event for people to learn the facts and hear the testimonies that have been ignored by the media – and by TDs – in the debate,” said Niamh Uí Bhriain. “We’ve just spent the year in lockdown to protect older and vulnerable people, yet our TDs are rushing to endanger them with Assisted Suicide. We need to make the facts known, and have an actual debate on this issue, where we hear from medical experts, from people with disabilities and from those who are vulnerable,” she said.

The Do No Harm conference will be streamed from Life Institute’s website – www.thelifeinstitute.net – and their Facebook page, and You Tube channel on Saturday November 28th at 2pm. Register here