Aontú Leader, Peadar Tóibín TD has delivered a submission on behalf of his party to the Oireachtas Committee on Health.
“The level of scrutiny that this Bill has received to date has been dangerously low. It has been given only 70 minutes of debate so far with incredibly only one TD being allowed a total of 4 minutes to oppose it”.
“We are concerned that the discourse on the Bill to date has been almost exclusively ideological. The diversity of voices of people with a terminal illness has been absent and the voices of medical professionals who work in this area and who in the main oppose this Bill have been almost completely ignored. The voice of the medical professionals with the most knowledge, with the most experience and I would say with the most compassion has been in the main deleted”.
“It is heart-breaking that this debate is being advanced at a time of Covid, when the state has seriously failed so many older people in nursing homes, when economic drivers are already of cutting short (mostly vulnerable) peoples’ lives, when the state is refusing to provide a medical card to all who have a terminal illness and invest in the proper provision of services for people with disabilities”.
“We have no doubt that many of the proponents of this Bill do so for reasons of empathy and compassion. However in the small number of countries that have legalised assisted suicide it has proved impossible to legislate for, without putting enormous pressure on thousands of other elderly citizens and persons with disabilities. The introduction of Assisted Suicide makes many people at the end of life feel like a burden and puts pressure the vulnerable to end their lives. This is not compassion. Legalised Assisted Suicide is an outlier internationally because of the massive problems it can cause within the rest of society. Many progressive nations, such as the Nordic countries, have refused to introduce it due to the massive pressure that it places on older people”.
“We are deeply concerned that in Ireland, as has happened in other countries, this law will radically change the culture of society and see the rates of Assisted Suicide grow far beyond even the numbers anticipated by proponents, in a short space in time. In Belgium 1 in 20 deaths are now recorded as Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia”.
“We are also concerned that Ireland will replicate the increase in suicide rates in the general population that has been seen in other countries where Assisted Suicide has been introduced. How can the State’s Public Health policy say that Suicide is never the right answer but then when it comes to Assisted Suicide say, well actually it is”.
“The Bill as its written is incredibly vague. We am alarmed that any life-limiting condition that cannot be reversed with state-of-art medicine at that time could be construed as ‘terminal’, and so could rob fellow citizens of many years of life that can be fulfilling”.
“Ireland has a poor track record in protecting the old and the vulnerable. Since March, Alone’s national support line has received in excess of 31,900 calls for support. Palliative care is underfunded as it stands in Ireland. It is also notable, in many jurisdictions, after legalising Assisted Suicide there tends to be a divestment from health care and support for older people and people with a terminal illness. In Canada, the areas with the lowest investment in palliative care tend to be the areas with the highest level of Assisted Suicide. In California, some Medical Insurance Companies provide funding for Assisted Suicide but do not pay for Chemotherapy”.
“The provisions contained in this Bill offer neither compassion nor dignity. Indeed, the utter lack of clarity and safeguards would actively endanger the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society.
We, as a society, cannot disregard our duty to protect and vindicate the rights of the vulnerable individuals who would be disproportionately disadvantaged were this Bill to become law”.