Dying with Dignity Bill and choice

Sir, – Breda O'Brien ("Euthanasia: Not so much a slippery slope as a push off a cliff", Opinion, March 13th) in opposing the Dying With Dignity Bill now before the Oireachtas, quotes data from the report of Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) in Oregon in the United States.

She is correct when she states that many applicants cited fear of being a burden to family and friends as a reason for seeking VAD. However, she neglected to mention that this fear is not a reason for being granted VAD.

In Oregon, as in the Irish Bill, the qualification is terminal illness certified by two doctors; not fear of being a burden, disability or being “tired of life”. This Bill is about offering us compassionate relief of suffering at the end of life – if that is our free, considered choice. – Yours, etc,

ALAN TUFFERY, Raheny, Dublin 5.


Sir, – With reference to Breda O' Brien's article, I read it as an appeal to emotion and with no real empirical backup.

It is basically a report on Hope Ireland’s recent annual conference, an organisation whose raison d’etre being opposition to any form of legislation in Ireland on assisted dying or euthanasia.

Dying is a sad but inevitable event. Some are prepared for death and others not so. The Dying with Dignity Bill alluded to by O’Brien is about those who are so prepared, and have made a free and informed choice regarding their final days.

Choice is the word that needs to be emphasised in this debate. It is not about coercion or compulsion. The Bill is about helping people to die well. The “slippery slope” argument used by O’Brien has a wonderful appeal to the imagination.

It is also hypothetical and speculative. It is a last resort argument. – Yours, etc,

NOEL BYRNE (74), Ratoath, Co Meath.

Sir, – Breda O’Brien offers a selection of case studies and opinions to support her view that choice at end of life is a dangerous thing.

She concludes that the inevitable failure of regulation will result in tragic premature deaths. Failure of regulation cannot be inevitable.

Compassionate care at end of life should include choice. Palliative care and voluntary assisted dying ought to be complementary. – Yours, etc,

JUSTIN McKENNA, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.