Independent TD John Halligan moved a Private Member's Bill providing for "a dignified and peaceful end of life'' for qualifying persons.
He said the Dying with Dignity Bill 2015 would recognise “the right of clearly consenting adults who are enduring intolerable physical suffering to seek medical help to end their lives’’.
Mr Halligan said the Bill was inspired by the battle of "an exceptionally brave Irish woman'', the late Marie Fleming, who while in the final stages of multiple sclerosis took a landmark challenge to the Supreme Court on Ireland's legal ban on assisted suicide.
“She lost that battle but the Chief Justice said in the case at that time there was nothing in the judgment to prevent the State from introducing legislative measures with appropriate safeguards to deal with such cases as hers,’’ he added.
Mr Halligan said that his Bill contained exactly those safeguards, setting out strictly monitored criteria to allow a person in abnormal suffering to choose a dignified, pain-free death surrounded by loved ones rather than continue to endure their excruciating torture with no quality of life. “We are talking about people who, in their most desperate moment of life, are being deprived of their humanitarian rights,’’ he added.
Mr Halligan said he knew the issue was taboo for many TDs, but it was already being debated throughout
Euthanasia, or assisted suicide, was already legal in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland, he said, adding that it was an ethical issue Ireland would have to address sooner or later.
Various opinion polls estimated that about seven in 10 people would be in favour of assisted suicide for people suffering with a terminal illness, he said.
The Bill is scheduled to be discussed in Private Member’s time.