The Council for Public Affairs’ Republic of Ireland Panel has made a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice as part of its consideration of the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020. Should the Bill become law, it would legalise physician assisted suicide for anyone living on the island of Ireland.
The Panel’s submission draws on medical and legal expertise from within the denomination and seeks to recognise the complexity of the issues, whilst also reflecting the experience of those providing pastoral care in these difficult situations.
Reflecting on the fact that the factors which allow a person to “die well” extend beyond the physical to social, emotional, financial and spiritual aspects of life, the submission calls for action to ensure ‘that palliative care pathways are readily available and accessible across the country, particularly in areas where service provision is inconsistent – often away from larger urban regions… investing in palliative pathways rather than the proposals in this Bill provide a better way of increasing dignity and peacefulness around the end of life in Ireland for qualifying patients’.
The submission concludes by saying, ‘Improving the care needs of those approaching the end of life in a consistent manner, to help them to live as well as possible to the end of their lives, ought to be the focus. The true measure of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable and the Bill would increase, not lessen, their vulnerability. On that ground alone, the Bill should not proceed.’
PCI’s submission is available to read here.
The news release, quoting the Very Rev Dr Trevor Morrow, convenor of the Republic of Ireland Panel, can be read here.
In 2015, 150 people attended a PCI conference in Belfast that looked at end of life issues. The Church in the Public Square event brought together a number of leading thinkers in the UK to consider the role that Christians and the Church can play in wider community life under the theme 'Living and dying well'.
Contributors to the conference were:
- Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well
- Robert Preston, who was Clerk to the House of Lord's select committee which examined Lord Joffe's Private Member's Bill, 'Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill' in 2004-05 and
- John Wyatt is Professor of Ethics and Perinatology at University College, London
You can hear the audio from that conference here.