Dying with Dignity Bill

 

Sir, – Dr Mark Murphy and colleagues refer to the “few” people per year who may avail of assisted suicide legislation (Letters July 13th). Some 2 per cent to 4 per cent of 30,000 deaths per year in Ireland is 600 to 1,200 people a year who would be assisted in suicide. This is not a small number.

This number will rise in line with international experience where legislation of this nature is enacted.

In Oregon, assisted deaths have more than quadrupled from 2009 to 2020 (53 to 245).

In Canada, assisted deaths have risen nearly eight-fold (1,015 to 7,596) in five years (2016 to 2020).

This is not about the “few”, however. It is about the much larger number of people whose quality of living and dying could be placed at risk by this legislation.

What does it say and mean to our patients that we will deliberately end their lives?

The scope for vulnerable people to feel societal or personal pressure to avail of assisted suicide is a real concern, particularly in a health system where we know that meaningful practical supports to assist people to live well are often woefully lacking, and our record in respecting and caring for the elderly, disabled, marginalised, and people who are otherwise vulnerable, is shamefully poor.

Notwithstanding the acknowledged need for revisions, we are particularly concerned by the complete absence of meaningful safeguards or adequate oversight mechanisms contained in this Bill. This is a huge risk in a Bill that proposes that a person’s life be deliberately ended, and huge risks demand robust safeguards and protections.

We should all continue to advocate for assisted living and not assisted dying. – Yours, etc,

Dr SARAH McLEAN,

Dublin;

Dr FEARGAL

TWOMEY,

Limerick;

Dr ANNA CLEMINSON,

Sligo,

Chairwoman,

Irish Palliative Medicine

Consultants’ Association.