Respect the right to die, and to assisted peaceful dying

Right to Die Ireland has made the following submission to the Irish Constitutional Convention.

Recommendation:

Amend the Constitution to protect and respect equally:

The right of terminally or seriously ill people, who want to live as long as they can, to get the best possible medical resources that are available to enable them to do this. Nobody should be forced to die earlier than they want to, and the law should have strong safeguards to protect this right.

The right of of rational terminally or seriously ill people, who want to die peacefully at a time of their choosing, to be supported in carrying out this wish. Nobody should be forced to endure unnecessary suffering, particularly when it is a question not of whether they will die but of how and when.

The right of disabled people to be assisted by their medical team or by their loved ones to die peacefully at a time of their choosing. Nobody should be subject to discrimination on the basis of their disability, by being forced to endure suffering because they require assistance to do something that an able-bodies person can lawfully do.

Right to Die Ireland

Please see this as a human issue where love and empathy and compassion and justice are frustrated by the law as it now stands.

Every year, many Irish citizens face this ethical dilemma between lawful suffering and unlawful compassion. Please read the enclosed witness statement made by Marie Curran to the High Court. Marie, who is in the final stages of multiple sclerosis, was seeking to be lawfully assisted to have a peaceful death at a time of her choosing without putting her partner Tom Curran at risk of prosecution for helping her.

One big misconception about the right to die is that it is merely about dying. Please read the enclosed tribute to Anne Holliday, who died of lung cancer in 2011. Anne had made preparations to be able to die peacefully and painlessly. Like most people who make such preparations, Anne ended up dying naturally. But, by knowing that she had the option to avoid suffering, she increased her quality of life in the time she had left.

Earlier this year, the Irish Supreme Court ruled that, despite suicide being lawful, there is no Constitutional right either to suicide or to arrange for the termination of one’s own life at a time of one’s choosing, and that the principle of equal treatment does not confer on a disabled person the right to be assisted in taking their own life.

Please recommend amending our Constitution to enable the Oireachtas to pass laws that will protect the right to live, respect the right to die, and legalise assisted peaceful dying for rational terminally or seriously ill people in Ireland.

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