An ethos of equal respect
The danger in ‘talking up’ people ‘wanting to end their own lives no matter what challenges they face is that it tends to create a reluctance on vulnerable people’s part to sharing their needs or asking for support. By normalising ‘I want to end my life because I have problems’-speak, society is saying to vulnerable people that they are a burden and the generous thing to do is to stop being a burden to others.
Many of us face challenges at the end of our lives. To create an ethos of equal respect, we must encourage in our lives, and that of our family, community and in government a society that supports and cares for the weakest and most vulnerable among us.
The House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics has defined euthanasia as follows:
“A deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering.”
Below are the different forms of euthanasia:
- Indirect euthanasia: Providing someone with drugs/care that will as a consequence, quicken the termination of someone’s life.
- Active euthanasia: Accomplishing an act which will quicken the termination of someone’s life.
- Passive euthanasia: Terminating someone’s palliative care ( = stopping treatment) in order to end the life.
- Voluntary euthanasia: Euthanasia accomplished at the request of the patient.
- Involuntary euthanasia: Euthanasia accomplished at the request of someone else, in cases of non-conscious patients or those not considered as able to make the decision.
* Examples would include the famous Vincent Lambert (FRA) and Terri Schiavo (USA).
- Physician Assisted Suicide which is when a physician assists the patient to commit suicide, often by providing the patient with consultation and prescribing and supplying lethal drugs.
As the euthanasia debate is quite complex, there are different levels of legislation around the world, ranging at different levels and their availability.
The standard situation that one would appeal for euthanasia, in countries where it’s legal of course, would be those with terminal illnesses or those who are in intense physical pain with no foreseeable future without it; those cases deemed “hopeless.” However, in some countries, (i.e., Belgium & Netherlands) the specifications required are much less selective and they allow those with mental illnesses to apply.
For a full list on the countries where euthanasia is legal : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_euthanasia
Euthanasia in Ireland:
Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide are currently illegal according to the Criminal Law Act of 1993:(http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1993/act/11/section/2/enacted/en/html)
However, passive euthanasia (the refusing of treatment) does not warrant criminal charges. In Irish Medical Council section 9, 16, & 46 (https://www.medicalcouncil.ie/News-and-Publications/Reports/Guide-to-Professional-Conduct-and-Ethics-8th-Edition-2016-.pdf) this is made clear.
In 2018, following the Repeal of the 8th amendment, euthanasia became even more of a topic – some considering that this move had “paved the way” for the legalisation of euthanasia. BuzzFeed conducted a poll which attracted 5,299 voters – 67% in favor of euthanasia, 28% not in favor, and 5% unknown.
Euthanasia in Ireland/2019
Independent Alliance Minister John Halligan has just announced that he has been seeking a debate on the topic of euthanasia, his intention is to have it brought up in the Dáil upon its re-commencement on the 17th of September.
Independent Alliance Minister John Halligan has been attempting to introduce this bill since 2015.
For more references on the matter: