Aontú: To legalise assisted dying would send out the wrong signal on suicide
We need a an honest, open and fair debate on the Assisted Suicide Bill that is before the Dáil.
This is an enormously difficult issue for many people.
For anyone who has lost a loved one it can be the most difficult thing ever to happen them.
To lose a loved one in a really difficult situation is traumatising.
We live at a time where modern medicine is better able to deal with pain than ever before.
Doctors will do everything they can to stop pain.
This bill is a massive change to Ireland’s law and its culture.
It seeks to make it legal for one person to kill another. Once this Rubicon has been crossed as in other countries, they have found it impossible to limit the further broadening of criteria for the ending of life.
So much so that countries such as Canada, Netherlands and Belgium have seen the number avail of assisted suicide radically increase.
These countries initially introduced assisted suicide for a small number of really difficult cases but have now seen the numbers increase nine and 10-fold.
Requests for euthanasia are extremely rare before its made legal but radically increase when the culture changes.
While this bill sets 18 years as the minimum age to avail of assisted suicide.
In countries that have made the major cultural change the age limit has been dropped to include children.
Belgium did this and children as young as nine and 11 years old have been killed.
In countries that have introduced assisted suicide pressure starts to grow on older people and people with severe disabilities.
Disability Rights UK opposed the change in the law in Britain arguing that the choice to die could be “an illusory choice” if people with disabilities are not offered proper support.
The British Medical Association (BMA) says that improvements in palliative care should be made to allow patients to die with dignity.
Aontú is committed to creating a fairer, more just society in which every life is cherished and protected equally regardless of age, disability or race.
I firmly believe we need to do far more to protect those in need.
It makes it harder to reduce suicide rates in countries where assisted suicide has been introduced.
How can a country tell people that suicide is never the right decision when it makes it legal and says to some people that it is the right decision.
We urge the Irish government to assist people with living.
To invest the necessary resources to ensure that people who are faced with difficult death have all the supports that they need to make for final journey as comfortable and pain free as humanly possible.
We need to improve our palliative care and our health service but euthanasia is not the solution to the failings in our health system.
Our medical professionals have always been directed towards the saving of life.
This bill will radically change that direction.
For the first time medics will be tasked with ending adult life.
Le gach dea-ghuí
• Peadar Tóibin is the leader of Aontú and is a TD for Meath West
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