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Assisted suicide proposal defeated second time in Ireland


Natalya Rozhkova | Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 07/24/21

Legislators might establish special committee to examine the issue, strengthen legislation.
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A legislative proposal to allow physician-assisted suicide in Ireland has failed for a second time.

The Irish legislature’s Justice Committee decided Thursday that the Dying with Dignity bill is not workable, the Newstalk website reported. 

The advocacy group Hope Ireland called the news a “significant victory.”  The organization said that a majority of individual medical submissions to legislators considering the bill were against it. The Committee on Justice this month issued a “Report on Scrutiny of the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020.” It 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.”

In February, palliative care experts warned that the legislation leaves the population open to “significant risk,” the Irish Times reported.

James Lawless, chairman of the Justice Committee, said the bill was flawed technically.

“It wasn’t robust enough,” Lawless said. “There were a number of drafting errors, there were a number of technical legal errors” which “would not only make it subject to challenge in the courts, but also made it legally inconsistent.”

He compared the bill’s four or five pages length to a similar bill in New Zealand, which is about 240 pages long.

“So we said ‘Look, it’s a very important issue, very glad we had the debate, very glad we had the opportunity to look at it’ but this needs to be done properly,” Lawless said.

The sponsor of the bill, Gino Kenny, of the People Before Profit party, said he will begin to re-draft the legislation, and legislators are considering establishing a special committee to examine the issue.

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