6 October 2020
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) fully supports everyone’s right to dignity and autonomy, including the right to make our own decisions over how we live our lives and how we might ultimately want to end them. ICCL is not opposed to enshrining a right to die with dignity in legislation. However, we consider that there is much work to be done before we do so.
ICCL’s Senior Research and Policy Officer, Doireann Ansbro, said:
“ICCL supports the rights of terminally ill people who may wish to end their lives. However, we believe there are a number of important steps that need to be taken before we legislate for assisted suicide. These steps include enacting existing laws and providing proper support for terminally ill people including by ensuring they can make their own decisions on their own terms.”
Everyone should be in a position to exercise their own agency and autonomy when it comes to making decisions about their own lives. There are a number of relevant legal mechanisms already on the Statute Books, in particular those contained in the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015, that would enable and empower assisted decision making. This law must be enacted and the support mechanisms it envisages, such as the Decision Support Service must be properly resourced as a first step.
Another key concern is the criminalisation of doctors who assist terminally ill people to die. As the law stands, assisting a person to commit suicide is a crime in Ireland. This could be removed as a criminal offence from the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act 1993 and guidelines for medical practitioners around assisted suicide could be drafted and adopted.
Concerns will be raised that assistance might be provided without proper consent. Assisted suicide without consent is murder and can be prosecuted as such. Offences such as manslaughter and assault also exist for situations where there is no consent. Proper guidelines for prosecutors would also assist in this area.
Ms Ansbro added:
“More research and investigations are needed into the current Irish context to inform public debate and the government’s approach. All voices must be heard. The government should consult with a wide range of stakeholders, with a primary focus on people who may be directly affected by such a Bill.”
Find our full policy position here: https://www.iccl.ie/iccl-policy-paper-on-right-to-die/
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is Ireland’s oldest independent human rights monitoring organisation. We monitor, educate and campaign for all human rights for everyone.
For comment: Doireann Ansbro
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