HAI Welcomes Recommendations to Legalise Assisted Dying

The HAI welcomes the publication today of the report of the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying, which recommends that legislation be introduced to allow assisted dying in Ireland.

The recommendations would see the legislation apply to a person diagnosed with an illness or medical condition that is incurable, irreversible, progressive, and advanced and will cause death within six months. The recommended time limit for neurodegenerative conditions is 12 months. The report states that a person eligible for assisted dying must be experiencing suffering which cannot be relieved in a way that the ill person finds tolerable.

Amongst the 38 recommendations, the committee report recommends inclusion of a conscientious clause allowing any doctor, nurse or medical worker not to be involved.

The Committee also recommends that eligibility for assisted dying should be limited to Irish citizens or those ordinarily resident in the State for a period of not less than twelve months.

The next steps are for the Cabinet to review and back the plan. Legislation would then need to clear both Houses of the Oireachtas before the next general election – otherwise it all falls. The HAI will continue to advocate to ensure that the legislation is put in place.

The HAI gave evidence to the Joint Committee last December, in support of legalising assisted dying. The humanist position is based on reason and compassion, and on the value we place on personal autonomy. Palliative care plays an important role in helping the dying to have a peaceful death, but for some unfortunate people, pain relieving measures are not effective. In some cases, death comes only after a long period of unbearable suffering arising from an incurable and progressive medical condition. The key argument is the value we place on the autonomy of the individual.

The HAI has advocated for the introduction of assisted dying for more than a decade. If you are supportive of legislation being introduced to permit Assisted Dying under specific circumstances and with specific controls in place, please visit the How You Can Help section on our Assisted Dying page and take action to support a compassionate approach that respects individual autonomy. There is a sample template letter that you can use to contact your local TD, asking for their support in implementing the legislation. Please consider donating to the HAI to support this cause. We are a charity that relies on volunteers to deliver much of our advocacy work and every amount, no matter how small, can help. Your support can make all the difference.

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