It was a great privilege to be invited to be present at the launch of the new organisation, HOPE Ireland and to speak at their inaugural conference in Dublin on the 6th of June.
Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, director of HOPE Ireland, convened the conference in the wake of recent announcements that a bill will soon be tabled in the Dail (Parliament) in the nation's firstt attempt through the parliament at legalising assisted suicide.
Alex Schadenberg, head of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International opened the conference and set the scene of the troubling history of both euthanasia and assisted suicide in the few jurisdictions where these practices are approved in law.
William Binchy, Fellow Emeritus, School of Law at Trinity College Dublin outlined the current case law on euthanasia and assisted suicide and reflected on the challenges that these decisions pose to the protection and application of human rights.
Caroline Roux explained the current troubling developments in France including a dangerous decision in the European Court of Human Rights that endorsed a French Court's earlier decision to starve and dehydrate Vincent Lambert.
Henk Reitsema (Holland) and Tom Mortier (Belgium) outlined their personal and family distress at the euthanasia deaths of a family member while Henk also exposed the undercover killing of patients without consent occurring through the specious use of sedation and then dehydration to death in The Netherlands.
Other speakers included Canadian disability activist, Amy Hasbrouck who laid out the historic reasons why people living with disability oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, why her and her colleagues ae in the frontline of opposition to such practices and why and how we should all work together in coalition.
Overall, the day was a tour de force and an exposition of the case against law change, drawing, as Kevin Fitzpatrick observed, on a deep reservoir of experience collected over many years of opposition.
From observing the assembled 100-plus attendees and in conversation it is very obvious that not only is HOPE Ireland answering a need to get organised and active, but that the expertise and ongoing support from international colleagues and from Kevin himself as director has raised people's confidence that the coming bill will be defeated and that the public understanding of the perils of euthanasia and assisted suicide will continue to be reinforced!
Well done to all!
Some of the media reporting on the conference:
For more details and to supporrt HOPE Ireland go to the HOPE IRELAND website.