Research reveals shifting attitudes towards euthanasia

 

ALMOST 60 per cent of final year medical students in one Irish university are in favour of euthanasia, according to a new survey.

The study of students at University College Cork forms part of a research project by Canadian medical student Matthew Carere. He revealed some of his findings at a Law Society conference in UCC yesterday, on Assisted Dying and Euthanasia in Ireland.

Public opinion towards euthanasia was changing, he said, because patients were better informed to make decisions for themselves.

“Over the past three decades public opinion toward euthanasia is gradually improving,” he added. “We are moving away from a paternalistic type medicine, respecting more patient autonomy and patients are more well informed.”

Speakers at yesterday’s debate included disability rights campaigner Kathy Sinnott, founder of Exit International Ireland Tom Curran, and DCU lecturer Dr Adam McAuley.

Debate on the issue requires a move away from the “moral absolute”, according to Dr McAuley.

Tracing the history of legislation on euthanasia and assisted suicide, he said legislation was required, as physical assisted suicide was happening here “behind closed doors”. “A very narrow group of individuals should not prevent us regulating for it,” he said.

Mr Curran outlined the story of his partner Marie, who has had multiple sclerosis for 30 years. He has pledged to assist her end her life should she make that decision. “If she does decide, she will have to have help and I will be breaking the law,” he said.

However, Anthony Ozimic of the UK’s Society for Protection of the Unborn Child said euthanasia was underpinned by a pessimism about the value of life and the ability of society to respond adequately to the sick and the vulnerable.