22.3.24: Joint Committee on Assisted Dying recommends legislation for euthanasia

22.3.24: Joint Committee on Assisted Dying recommends legislation for euthanasia

On 20 March 2024, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Assisted Dying recommended the introduction of legalisation regulating assisted suicide and euthanasia in its majority report. This decision has been criticised by three members of the Joint Committee, who launched their own minority report: Deputy Michael Healy-Rae (chairman of the Joint Committee), Deputy Robert Troy, and Senator Rónán Mullen.

Deputy Healy Rae, speaking on the plinth of Leinster House where he launched the minority report, criticised the practice in Canada of offering patients assisted dying as an option because “in my opinion, every life is worth living. Every life is a precious thing, a special thing.” In Canada, as a result of so-called Medical Assistance in Dying, 4.1% of all deaths in the state are attributable to assisted dying.

Speaking at the same press conference, Senator Mullen said “We can’t legislate to take away a human right, and the constitution has a strong commitment from the state to vindicate life.” Some members of the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying criticised Deputy Healy Rae’s right to express his views in opposition to the report of the majority of members of the committee, due to his status as chairman.

Despite the objections raised by various Irish medical organisations, the Committee has decided to endorse facilitating suicide or intentional killing in specific circumstances. The diverse range of individuals and organisations opposed to this proposal have called for an alternative strategy of strengthening palliative care and of preserving the integrity of the physician-patient relationship.