Sir, – Psychiatrists Dr Eric Kelleher and Prof Anne Doherty (Letters, June 22nd) put forward the "slippery slope" line and suggest that safeguards will never be adequate. They then go on to assert that those with mental health issues may be particularly vulnerable.
Cancer patients, who they point out may often be depressed, will be assessed for voluntary assisted dying on the same criteria as everyone else, that is, on their terminal condition, not on their mental health. Their terminal condition will be determined by two doctors acting independently and not the patient’s opinion of their condition.
The writers undermine the “slippery slope” line by describing the legislative scrutiny of the proposed change in Canada. Far from being unforeseen, unintended, unregulated consequences, any “widening” of criteria anywhere has always been as a result of public discussion and legislative scrutiny.
Finally, no-one disputes the need for better mental health and palliative care services. Let’s just have voluntary assisted dying as a complementary choice for those who want it. That is what the Dying with Dignity Bill offers. – Yours, etc,
End of Life Ireland,
Sir, – This proposed legislation highlights the need for greater provision of much-valued palliative and mental healthcare to Irish citizens. Let us not conflate the issues, but focus on the purpose of the Bill itself, to provide voluntary assisted dying as an end of life choice. It is not a case of either or. – Yours, etc,