Vicky Phelan pleads with TDs to be afforded a dignified death

'I just want to be allowed to have the choice to control the circumstances of my death much as I have made decisions about my own life'
Vicky Phelan pleads with TDs to be afforded a dignified death

The words of Vicky Phelan, pleading to be afforded a dignified death, were read into the Dáil record tonight.

During a debate on the Dying With Dignity Bill, Labour leader Alan Kelly read the plea from the Limerick cancer campaigner into the record, where she called on TDs to put aside their own feelings on the issue and vote against sending the bill to a special committee, as is planned by the Government.

If the bill is sent to the all-party committee, it will be scrutinised for a year.

"I do not want to die," the plea states. 

"I am not choosing between living and dying. My cancer is incurable. The option of living will no longer be available to me in the not too distant future. 

"I just want to be allowed to have the choice to control the circumstances of my death much as I have made decisions about my own life. Do not kick this issue down the road for another 12 months. Please."

The debate also heard that it is "wholly inappropriate" to conflate the bill and assisted or intentional suicide.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, who has drafted and published it, told the chamber that it was inaccurate to paint the proposal as an attack on vulnerable people.

The bill would allow those over 18 who cannot recover from their illness to make provision to receive a dignified death.

It would require two medical practitioners, including one independent doctor, to agree that the person meets the criteria.

However, opponents to the bill have criticised it as being akin to euthanasia or conflated it with suicide, language Mr Kenny criticised.

"We want greater resources for hospice and palliative care. But there is no contradiction in supporting this and the right of people coming to the end of their lives and suffering unbearable pain."

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that the bill has "a number of legal and technical issues which require much greater consideration".

"The past decade has seen this country make a series of significant social changes in a relatively short space of time. We do not need to recount the old arguments today; but on every occasion, each of us took positions which were sincerely held and honestly argued.

"Yet the decisions we took, from the introduction of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill to the referendums to usher in marriage equality and to repeal the Eighth Amendment, followed years of debate."

Sinn Féin's Martin Kenny called for the bill to go to committee stage. 

However, independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick said he found it shocking that "vulnerable people would be bombarded with stories about the legalisation of assisted suicide".

A vote on the bill will take place next Wednesday.

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