July 26, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – There is good news out of Ireland for a change—the Oireachtas Justice Committee has rejected a bill legalizing assisted suicide, citing “serious technical issues” as well as “serious flaws” in the bill, including a lack of safeguards for those pressured into opting for suicide.
“This is a significant victory for everyone who worked to protect the vulnerable, but the media are determined not to let this issue go away,” Niamh Uí Bhriain of Life Institute told me. “They did everything they could to ignore the massive opposition from doctors and palliative care experts who have come out so strongly against assisted suicide, and this failed effort doesn’t mean they won’t be back, within twelve months, with another effort to dress this up as compassion.”
The Committee left the door open to a prompt reintroduction, noting that the “gravity of such a topic as assisted dying warrants a more thorough examination” but notably not rejecting the premise of Dying with Dignity Bill 2020. Instead of heading to the next stage, the bill will instead be sent to a Special Committee of the Oireachtas. It is likely that the outcry from medical professionals halted this effort—as Uí Bhriain noted in a press release, the Justice Committee admitted that the majority of submissions from every category of medical stakeholder were in opposition to the legislation.
The Committee specifically noted Life Institute’s contribution to the proceedings, stating that “some 324 submissions were sent in from those affiliated with the Life Institute, an organisation which is pro-life, pro-family and believes in the sanctity of human life. They strongly oppose this Bill. Among the points raised in their submissions, additional to the points raised in other categories include: that assisted suicide is strongly resisted by disability rights groups for the clear impact it would have on devaluing the lives of those with disabilities and the risks it poses to them.”
In summary, the Committee observed 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.”
Sadly, Canada has become a cautionary tale only six years after legalizing assisted suicide (and then expanding the eligibility criteria more recently) while ignoring the rapidly growing need for palliative care. The Committee noted that LI had cited the Canadian example as one to avoid: “They quote a recent paper published in The Canadian Medical Association Journal, which they state claimed that millions of dollars could be saved in health care spending by ‘assisting’ people to die. Similarly, a Canadian budget report allegedly stated that $149 million could be “saved” on the annual cost of end-of-life care by utilising assisted suicide.”
In Canada, assisted suicide is available where palliative care often is not—and there have already been many instances of people opting to die because the care they need and want is not available to them. Their plight has been ignored by the government, and the promise to ensure universal access to palliative care has been broken. LI pointed out that the same scenario would likely unfold in Ireland if Dying with Dignity Bill 2020 was to be made law, and that significant investments into care and protections for the vulnerable as well as palliative care are necessary.
According to LI: “In the category of individual medical submissions, the Committee received 64 submissions, the majority of which were also opposed to this Bill, focusing on the dangers of a slippery slope, and highlighting the recent governmental decision in the Netherlands (which had previously been approved in Belgium in 2014), which would allow for assisted dying to include children suffering from a terminal illness.” In short: the slippery slope fallacy no longer applies when the inevitable consequences of legalizing suicide for some are now demonstrably clear. For now, the hard work of the pro-life movement and their allies has fended off the threat.
“Last year we warned that Ireland was sleepwalking into legalizing assisted suicide, but pro-life groups, medical organizations and others did a huge body of work since then to raise awareness of the very real dangers it presents to some of the most vulnerable people in society including the elderly, the sick, and people with disabilities,” said Uí Bhriain. “Over a million people have now been reached with our Don’t Assist Suicide campaign, for example, and we’re going to ramp that up now as COVID restrictions lift with a special focus on how assisted suicide is increasingly being seen as a means to cut healthcare costs. That’s a deeply immoral and chilling reality that people need to come to terms with.”
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