The Government has been urged to allow its TDs a free vote on legislation seeking to give people with progressive and incurable terminal illnesses the right to die.
People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny has introduced the Dying with Dignity Bill in the Dáil, which aims to let people with terminal illnesses decide the timing of their own death.
Mr Kenny said “compassion, empathy and humanity should be at the heart of this debate” where the most important voice “is that of the individual who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness”.
He added: “Assisted dying is not about ending life, but about ending suffering when a person no longer has the option of living. They have not made that decision. It has been taken out of their hands.”
The legislation has gone into the Dáil lottery system where private members Bills are chosen on a random basis for debate in the House.
It is therefore unclear when it will be debated but currently there are a “handful” of Bills in the lottery, Mr Kenny said. He expected it to be discussed in the Dáil before the end of the year.
The Dublin Mid-West TD appealed to the public and his colleagues to give the legislation some thought in the coming weeks.
He said that “if there isn’t a clear party or Government position” on the legislation then the coaliton should “allow a free vote or vote of conscience”.
The legislation is supported by cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan and Tom Curran, whose partner Marie Fleming campaigned for the right to choose the time of her death.
Mr Kenny said that “in the most profoundly difficult circumstances people should have a choice to have a dignified and peaceful end to their lives on their own terms when the pain and suffering become unbearable”.