Oireachtas committee to recommend legislation for assisted dying and euthanasia

Oireachtas committee to recommend legislation for Medically assisted dying and euthanasia

The Oireachtas Committee on Medically Assisted Dying is set to recommend that both assisted suicide and euthanasia be introduced in Ireland.

The legislation would primarily apply to a person diagnosed with an illness or medical condition that is incurable, irreversible, progressive, and advanced and will cause death within six months.

This time limit is likely set at 12 months for neurodegenerative conditions.

The committee says the proposed legislation should also state that the illness must be causing suffering which cannot be relieved in a way that the ill person finds tolerable.

In these cases, the person would be eligible to be assessed for assisted dying and it would all be overseen by a medical professional.

Medically Assisted suicide would involve the person who wants to die taking the action to end their life.

However, euthanasia is also recommended, in which a doctor would take the action to end life when the person wanting to die is incapable physically to administer a medical substance.

The committee report will also include a conscientious clause allowing any doctor, nurse or medical worker not to be involved.

The committee believes that no constitutional change is required.

If the Cabinet backs the plan, any legislation would need to clear both Houses of the Oireachtas before the next general election – otherwise it all falls.

The Joint Committee on Assisted Dying was established last year to consider and make recommendations for legislative and policy change related to a statutory right to assist a person to end his, her or their life.

The special Oireachtas committee on Assisted Dying voted by a margin of nine to three in favor of legislating on the issue last night.

There was one abstention, while another member was not present for the final vote.

RTÉ Six One News interview with Janie Lazar, Chair of End of Life Ireland

Responding to the anticipated report, End of Life Ireland chairperson Janie Lazar said: “We at End of Life Ireland and Irish Doctors Supporting MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) gave evidence at the committee last November and called on members to recommend the set up of an implementation group on voluntary assisted dying.

“We’re conscious that the committee’s report won’t be published in full until March 20th, but what we’re reading this morning would be a major step forward for compassionate legislation.

“We’ve been working hard to get people talking about assisted dying and about the choices that should be available to those who have no time to wait or waste. We look forward to seeing the report in full and issuing a full response at that stage.”

Professor Des O’Neill, consultant geriatrician at Tallaght Hospital said the development was disappointing and quite disturbing.

He said doctors would see this as something that undermines the “whole impulse of care and radically alters how we view caring for each other, how we view disability, aging and dying”.

Prof O’Neill told RTÉ’s Drivetime: “It (assisted dying) cannot be limited and regulated and it utterly alters the frame in which we view each other and provide care for each other”.

He gave examples from Canada where hospices were being defunded if they do not provide euthanasia, which he said was very problematic.

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