Thursday, July 22, 2021

Great news: Dying with Dignity Bill is dead in Ireland

A message from Hope Ireland

We are very pleased to inform you, our supporters, that the Oireachtas Committee on Justice has refused to progress the Dying with Dignity Bill any further, and recommended a special parliamentary committee examine the whole area of "Assisted Dying". This is now the second time that the DWD Bill has failed to progress to completion through the Dáil - first in 2015, and now again in 2021.

This is a significant victory. It means euthanasia/assisted suicide proponents will be back to square one - and their path is less clear now: they could either reintroduce a "narrower" version of the Bill, or else wait for the Government to set up a special committee to examine the issue. We welcome the Joint Committee on Justice report.

It is interesting to note that the Justice Committee already produced a report on the whole issue of "Assisted Dying" in 2018 - and concluded that it was "not in a position to recommend legislative change at this time."

The DWD Bill 2020 passed Second Stage last October, and since then the Justice Committee had been engaged in "pre-legislative scrutiny" on the Bill, in order to determine whether it should proceed to committee stage. Today's report is clear that the Bill will not be progressing any further.

We have attached the Committee's report on the Bill (here) - it is well worth reading to get a flavour of what were the main arguments in the submissions on both sides of the debate. The report is helpfully divided into legal/personal/medical/religious submissions etc.

Many thanks for all the support over the past number of months. There is so much more I could say, but for now, take a moment to be thankful - we have a victory!

For those who are writing about this victory, the following are helpful points to note:
• A majority of individual medical submissions were against the Bill. Nearly all medical stakeholders were against the Bill.

• The report noted that: "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."

• The report noted that: "In some submissions, elderly people expressed their personal dismay, as they felt that after working hard all of their lives, the prospect of this Bill being passed made them feel as if society was demonstrating that they were of little value"

• Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission criticised the lack of "safeguards" in the Bill (here).

• Over 2500 healthcare professionals signed public letter rejecting the Bill (here).

• Experts in palliative medicine strongly criticised the Bill in principle and in practice (here).

• Disability rights advocates strongly criticised the Bill in the Irish Times (Conor Lynott here and Kathleen Rogers here).

• Euthanasia laws are not safe for people who are at a vulnerable time in their lives.
Again, thank you so much for your support over the past year, and we will keep you updated as developments progress. But for now, take a moment to be thankful - and please use our victory today to help generate a bit of momentum, especially in the UK.

Hope Ireland
Promoting positive care pathways at the end of life

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