Euthanasia In Ireland

Euthanasia In Ireland

Protecting the Vulnerable

The Pro-Life Campaign exists to protect the life and dignity of human beings at their most vulnerable times. This is why we oppose the introduction of Assisted Suicide and Active Euthanasia in the Republic of Ireland. 

Many of us face challenges at the end of our lives. To create an ethos and culture of equal respect, we must as a society become people who support and care for the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

Opposition to Euthanasia

The two groups of people who are most opposed to the introduction of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide are 

  • Medical professionals (especially palliative care consultants)
  • Disability Rights Advocates

Their voices must be heard in this debate if we are to have an authentic national conversation about this issue. 

What is Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide?

Assisted Suicide (Physician Aid in Dying/Physician Assisted Death) is when a doctor or medical professional assists a patient to die by suicide, often by providing the patient with a dose of lethal drugs.

Euthanasia (i.e. Active Euthanasia) is when a doctor ends the life of a patient, usually by providing the patient with a dose of lethal drugs. Passive Euthanasia is used to describe a situation in when the patient’s treatment is terminated, in order to hasten his or her death. 

Euthanasia (Active and Passive) can have three forms:

  1. Voluntary– the euthanasia is at the request of the patient
  2. Non-Voluntary– the euthanasia is carried out where the intentions of the patient are unknown/unavailable 
  3. Involuntary– the euthanasia is carried out against the wishes/consent of the patient 

Current Status in Ireland

Active Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide are currently illegal in the republic of Ireland, under the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act 1993.

It is an offence if someone ‘aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another, or an attempt by another to commit suicide’.

In 2013 the Supreme Court made clear in the Fleming decision that whilst there was no Constitutional right to die by suicide, the Oireachtas was free to legislate for Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, i.e. there is no Constitutional prohibition on the introduction of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Ireland. 

From the Supreme Court’s 1996 In Re Ward of Court ruling, it is clear that Passive Euthanasia (the removal of feeding tubes etc) is permissible. 

The Medical Council Guidelines make the above legal position clear in section 46 of its Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics (8th Edition 2019)

  • 46.3 Usually, you will give treatment that is intended to prolong a patient’s life. However, there is no obligation on you to start or continue treatment, including resuscitation, or provide nutrition and hydration by medical intervention, if you judge that the treatment:
    • is unlikely to work; or
    • might cause the patient more harm than benefit; or
    • is likely to cause the patient pain, discomfort or distress that will outweigh the benefits it may bring.

 

  • 46.9 You must not take part in the deliberate killing of a patient.

What is the Pro-Life Campaign doing to help?

We promote the dignity of all human beings regardless of their life stage by:

  • providing high quality briefing material to politicians on this topic.
  • supporting medical professionals and disability rights advocates in opposing.
  • promoting the human right to quality palliative care for all.