By Jonathon Van Maren
There is good news out of Ireland for a change—the Oireachtas Justice Committee has rejected a bill legalizing assisted suicide, citing “serious technical issues” as well as “serious flaws” in the bill, including a lack of safeguards for those pressured into opting for suicide.
“This is a significant victory for everyone who worked to protect the vulnerable, but the media are determined not to let this issue go away,” Niamh Uí Bhriain of Life Institute told me. “They did everything they could to ignore the massive opposition from doctors and palliative care experts who have come out so strongly against assisted suicide, and this failed effort doesn’t mean they won’t be back, within twelve months, with another effort to dress this up as compassion.”
The Committee left the door open to a prompt reintroduction, noting that the “gravity of such a topic as assisted dying warrants a more thorough examination” but notably not rejecting the premise of Dying with Dignity Bill 2020. Instead of heading to the next stage, the bill will instead be sent to a Special Committee of the Oireachtas. It is likely that the outcry from medical professionals halted this effort—as Uí Bhriain noted in a press release, the Justice Committee admitted that the majority of submissions from every category of medical stakeholder were in opposition to the legislation.
The Committee specifically noted Life Institute’s contribution to the proceedings, stating that “some 324 submissions were sent in from those affiliated with the Life Institute, an organisation which is pro-life, pro-family and believes in the sanctity of human life. They strongly oppose this Bill. Among the points raised in their submissions, additional to the points raised in other categories include: that assisted suicide is strongly resisted by disability rights groups for the clear impact it would have on devaluing the lives of those with disabilities and the risks it poses to them.”