Euthanasia Bill to be tabled in Irish Parliament


The European Co-ordinator for Exit International, Tom Curran told Irish newspapers recently that he is designing a 'right-to-die' bill that he hopes to have introduced into the Irish Parliament by the end of the year.

Tom Curran's wife, Marie Fleming, an Irish University lecturer and MS sufferer had earlier applied to the Irish Courts for a judgement that would have meant that Curran would not have been prosecuted had he assisted her to die in Switzerland. Both the High Court challenge and the Supreme Court Appeal failed and Ms Fleming passed away from natural causes in December 2013.

In May 2013, Fleming told the Irish press that she was considering suicide by using an Exit method that delivers a hypoxic death. I argued, at the time, that this would strike against the basis of her legal actions in as much as it was likely that she would need assistance to die by this method.

Curran confirmed to the Irish Independent that 'safeguards to protect the vulnerable has been their overriding priority.'

"We want to ensure the legitimate fears of people are satisfied and that nobody is put in any danger, but we also want to give people who are not vulnerable the right to choose a peaceful death."

Strange how pro-euthanasia activists will often contradict themselves. In 2012, US academic, Margaret Battin gave evidence to the Irish High Court to the effect that her studies identified no increase in risk to vulnerable patient groups. Curran appears to contradict Battin. But, then, Battin wasn't presenting a bill - therein perhaps lies the difference.

The reality is that the question regarding vulnerable people cannot be adequately accounted for in black-letter legislation. Vulnerability is not restricted simply to certain identifiable demographic cohorts nor is coercion or the presence of depression easily identified or dealt with. The Irish High Court agreed:

It is true that there is one recent first instance Canadian decision (Carter v. Canada (2012)) in which a different view was taken. In that case, the Canadian court reviewed the available evidence from other jurisdictions with liberalised legislation and concluded that there was no evidence of abuse. This Court also reviewed the same evidence and has drawn exactly the opposite conclusions.

Every time a bill is mooted or tabled we are told that it includes carefully crafted 'safeguards'. Certainly, the public would want such assurances; but it is an acknowledgement that vulnerability is a key issue and concern. In reality, such safeguards are never safe and, more often than not, they are simply a re-hash from earlier bills and add nothing new to the debate.

The Irish press are calling Curran's plan 'new right-to-die laws'. We don't have any details as yet, but if they are based on the premise that a 'right-to-die' can exist in law, then they're sadly mistaken. Again, the judgement in the Fleming Appeal in the Irish Supreme Court bears this out:

In particular the protection of the right to life cannot necessarily or logically entail a right, which the State must also respect and vindicate, to terminate that life or have it terminated. In the social order contemplated by the Constitution, and the values reflected in it, that would be the antithesis of the right rather than the logical consequence of it.

The news report said that Curran's bill will likely be tabled before the end of the year as a Private Member's Bill. It also conceded that the bill is not likely to pass through the Oireachtas (Parliament).

See also:

Irish Assisted Suicide Legal case - Fleming intends to act contrary to her own legal argument
Irish woman loses Supreme Court Appeal that challenged the ban on assisted suicide in Ireland
Irish assisted suicide court case is based on flawed assumption