New Assisted Suicide Laws Underway

In Ireland, a legislative committee, including all major parties, will soon propose new laws legalizing assisted suicide for those with terminal conditions or very short life expectancy.

The Oireachtas committee was unanimous in its support of a bill to amend the legislation to allow those with six to twelve months to live to obtain aid in terminating their lives.

Anyone who has a terminal disease or other medical condition that is not curable does not improve with treatment, is progressing rapidly, and is expected to die within six months will be affected by this regulation.

A neurodegenerative disease presumably will result in a 12-month extension of the time limit.

The committee’s report is scheduled for publication on March 20 after receiving unanimous approval from lawmakers across the political spectrum in Ireland. Once it is released, the government will be notified for further evaluation.

The three-party coalition government headed by Leo Varadkar may or may not be prepared to enact the proposal’s legal framework before the September general election.

If this bill passes, Ireland will join a select club of nations that have legalized assisted suicide under certain circumstances, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and Switzerland.

Under the proposed Irish legislation, two physicians’ signatures are required for a person’s incurable and life-threatening disease.

The proposal was criticized by Christian church officials and a Muslim cleric throughout the hearings for being incompatible with moral values and divine objectives. Some mental health professionals have expressed concern that the number of people trying to take their own life may rise.

The head of the End of Life Ireland lobbying organization has spoken highly of the committee’s suggestion.

According to constitutional law specialists, the committee’s suggestion would not require a referendum; all that would be required is a revision to the legislation.

The Irish Special Oireachtas committee deserves praise for its compassionate and evidence-based approach to assisted suicide. Stilwell lauded the latest daring step in the wake of the Westminster committee’s rejection of legislative reforms a week ago.