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Irish ‘Dying with Dignity Bill’ will make no further progress

Assisted Suicide
23 July 2021
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This week the Oireachtas Committee on Justice refused to progress the Dying with Dignity Bill any further.

The Bill was tabled by People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny and progressed to Committee Stage, after the Dáil voted to pass it at Second Stage by 81 to 71 votes last October.

Since then, the Justice Committee had been conducting 'pre-legislative scrutiny' on the Bill, in order to determine if it should proceed to Committee Stage. However, today's report makes it clear that it will not be progressing any further.

Bill had strong opposition

The Bill was heavily criticised by medical professionals, including experts in palliative medicine. Nearly all the medical submissions to the Committee were against the Bill.

It was also criticised for having a lack of safeguards by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and several disability advocates came down very strongly against the Bill.

The report also noted some sobering submissions made to the Committee:

"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."
Justice Committee Report on Dying with Dignity Bill
"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"
Justice Committee Report on Dying with Dignity Bill

What hap­pens now?

Rather than allow the Bill to progress to Committee Stage, the Justice Committee instead recommended that a parliamentary committee examine the whole area of 'assisted dying'.

The options for assisted suicide proponents are therefore either to introduce a narrower version of the bIll, or wait for the Government to establish this special committee.

This is the second time the Dying with Dignity Bill has failed to progress to completion through the Dáil, as it previously failed in 2015.

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