Sir, – Contrary to the assertion by Alan Tuffery (Letters, June 28th) that expanding the grounds of euthanasia "has always been as a result of public discussion and legislative scrutiny", as Canadian physicians we are sorry to report this has not been the experience here.
A review of the first five years of our euthanasia laws here was promised by the government. Before it had even begun, earlier this year we expanded our euthanasia legislation targets to include those suffering from mental illness alone. There was precious little meaningful public debate surrounding this significant legislative change, with the voices of the marginalised communities most affected by the new law being ignored.
For example, the most recent expansion of euthanasia eligibility was condemned by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, yet its concerns had no weight with the ideologues running this issue. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was unequivocal regarding his concerns about the consequences of the Bill. In his testimony to our parliament he said that “even if safeguards would be strengthened to ensure genuine consent, the damage is still done by portraying – not directly but effectively nonetheless – that the lives of persons with disabilities are somehow worth less than others”.
The grass may always appear greener, but it is best to face reality. The “stringent safeguards” once promised for Canadian euthanasia are an empty ritual. Euthanasia numbers bound upwards, 34 per cent higher in 2020 than in 2019. The system is not reliably engaged in suicide prevention. You have an illness – soon a purely mental illness, you want to die, whatever coercion there might be is not perceived, a doctor is found to end your life.
Does Ireland really want or need this?
– Yours, etc,
Dr WILL JOHNSTON,