A group of consultant doctors have said they are “gravely concerned” about the proposals to allow terminally ill people end their own lives.
In a letter to the Irish Examiner, members of the Irish Palliative Medicine Consultants’ Association (IPMCA) have called on TDs to oppose the Dying With Dignity Bill which will be voted on in the Dáil on Wednesday, saying no change in the law is required.
The doctors say they are gravely concerned by any proposal to legislate for assisted suicide and euthanasia in Ireland.
“Based on our collective experience over many decades of providing specialist care to thousands of individuals in Ireland and their families each year, we have closely observed the experiences of people who have lived and are living with serious illness,” the doctors argue.
The threats of the proposed bill to healthcare in Ireland, to the true meaning of the doctor-patient relationship and to the future of what we know compassionate and supportive specialist palliative care to be are many, they say.
“We worry about the impact on people who already struggle to have their voices heard in our society – older adults, the disabled, those with mental illness and others.
"We fear that the most vulnerable are those who may be made to feel a burden to their families and come under pressure to end their lives prematurely,” the doctors argue.
“Our experiences tell us that many in our society don’t really know what dying is like, or how rare it is that severe pain cannot be controlled.
"Most people do not know that the easing of physical, psychological or spiritual distress and addressing people’s fears, hopes, sadness and loss can transform the experiences of living, dying and bereavement for individual patients and their families.
Meanwhile, the Rural Group of Independent TDs will vote against the Dying with Dignity Bill on Wednesday in the Dáil, Mattie McGrath has said.
Speaking on Sunday, Mr McGrath cited the US state of Oregon where a survey found people felt compelled to examine assisted suicide because they felt they were a burden on their families.
“The Rural Independent Group, to the man and woman, the six of us are totally opposed to this bill and we are against it.
"Ireland is not ready for this. Many countries have introduced this and none of the guidelines has been adhered to, the numbers have rocketed up,” he said.
He complained that last week during a debate, neither he nor Carol Nolan, Peadar Tobin got any time to speak accusing left-wing independents of monopolising the speaking time.
“That’s not a very good start,” he said.
People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, the proposer of the Dying with Dignity Bill, said he thinks the vote on Wednesday night will be “very close”.
He said the government parties should grant their TDs a free vote to allow his bill progress into pre-legislative scrutiny rather than accepting the government’s amendment which would see a new special committee examine the issue.
Mr Kenny said this route would effectively bury his bill and it “wouldn’t see the light of day”.
If it goes to pre-legislative scrutiny, the process would be based on his bill.