HAI Position on Assisted Dying

The HAI supports voluntary assisted dying in circumstances where people are enduring immense pain and are suffering from a terminal, incurable or progressive condition. We support an act of bringing someone’s life to an end or assisting that person to die in accordance with the prior stated wishes of the individual. The purpose of voluntary assisted dying is to shorten patients’ suffering by granting them personal autonomy to allow them to die painlessly.

Humanists believe and respect people’s right to life, however, we also recognise that there are practical circumstances in which humane concern for the quality of a person’s life may override a desire to preserve that life at all costs, be it for religious, ethical or other reasons. If an individual judges that his/her own continued life has no value, we believe that within certain conditions, his or her wishes for ending that life should be acted upon.

Humanists also believe that individual autonomy (the ability to make one’s own decisions about what to do) is a core value of modern liberal democracy that Ireland aims to be. We thus believe that a person has a right to decide if they wish to end their own life. The justification for this right is based on the realisation that a person’s life belongs to no other than to the individual himself or herself.

Joint Committee on Assisted Dying

The Joint Committee on Assisted Dying has been formed to consider and make recommendations for legislative and policy change relating to a statutory right to assist a person to end his or her life (assisted dying) and a statutory right to receive such assistance. The Committee shall report to both Houses of the Oireachtas on its matters of consideration within nine months of its first public meeting, which took place on 13th June 2023.

HAI Campaign Actions to Date

  • We sent a submission to the Oireachtas Joint Special Committee on Assisted Dying, setting out the HAI’s position on assisted dying and our support for the proposed changes.
  • We met with Gino Kenny who sponsored the Dying with Dignity Private Members Bill in October 2020, and who is currently a member of the Joint Committee. Gino was also the speaker at our July 2023 event, which was attended by both members and the general public. Gino discussed the issue of assisted dying and the work of the Committee, and he answered questions from the public.
  • We are promoting the campaign and publishing updates from the Joint Committee public sessions on our social media.

How You Can Help

If you are supportive of legislation being introduced to permit assisted dying under specific circumstances and with specific controls in place, please consider taking the following actions:

  • Contact your local TD
  • Contact the members of the Joint Committee
  • If you have personal experience of assisted dying, please share your story with us (advocacy@humanism.ie). We can publish it anonymously if you prefer.
  • 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.

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