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Campaigners want euthanasia for far more than the terminally ill, says Iona Institute 

A leading campaign group has said that if an Oireachtas committee’s recommendation that euthanasia be legalised for those judged to be within six to 12 months of death, pressure will mount for it to be allowed on far more expansive grounds. 

“We know this because pro-euthanasia advocates who appeared before the committee were quite clear on what they want,” the Iona Institute said in a statement.

The advocacy group has gathered quotes from the testimony of activists who appeared before the Oireachtas Committee who said they want euthanasia to be available not only to the terminally ill, but also to those with “life-limiting” conditions like dementia, and even to those with severe mental illness.

“One campaigner wants it made available on the same grounds as in Switzerland which does not require a person to be ill at all. It would be the height of naivety, therefore, to think euthanasia, if introduced, will be restricted long-term to the terminally ill only,” the Institute said.

The publication includes a quote from Jane Lazar of End-of-Life Ireland who said : “We’re asking you as legislators, to honour a person who has a terminal or life limiting diagnosis. Because time alone, ‘foreseeable death’ ought not be the sole basis for calculating eligibility criteria; some neurodegenerative conditions can go on for years as we see with Dementia, with MS.”

It also highlighted the statement from Justin McKenna of the same group who said: “You can live with dementia for a very long time. We in this room will all know people who are in that condition and who could sustain a life, or perhaps an existence. However, is it healthy? Is it healthy in the way they would like it to be? In a previous time, when they had capacity and when they were able to determine what they regarded as quality, they should be allowed to maintain it and decide when it should end, if that quality no longer exists.”

It also noted that an NUI Galway lecturer said:  “…it has been argued that it could be discriminatory to distinguish between suffering based entirely on physical illness and an equivalent degree of suffering based entirely on mental illness. It is something to seriously consider”.

“Notably, the pro-euthanasia members of the committee never pushed back against any of these sentiments and even encouraged them on occasion, so we can clear see the direction of travel if we permit euthanasia/assisted suicide on any grounds at all,” the Iona Institute said.

It noted that support for the Swiss model of assisted suicide should be clarified.  “In Switzerland, a person does not have to be physically or mental ill to die by assisted suicide. There are examples of couples dying together by assisted suicide where one is terminally ill and the other suffers from no illness at all. In Switzerland you must ingest the lethal substance yourself.”

“As Dr. Merete Nordentoft, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Copenhagen told committee members: “The only thing that will be able to protect the lives…of those who are most vulnerable in society will be a ban without exceptions.” This is very much the view of The Iona Institute,” spokesman David Quinn said.

Assisted suicide (also called ‘assisted dying’) involves a person self-administering a lethal drug or gas which is provided by another person. Euthanasia is where someone, usually a doctor, administers the lethal substance for them.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock / sfam_photo

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