12
OCT
2020

Doctors for Life statement on the “Dying with Dignity Bill 2020”

The Bill currently before the Dáil proposes to legalise physician-assisted suicide.  Its scope is wide ranging.  It is proposed to legalise physician-assisted suicide under certain conditions. It also proposes that doctors who have a conscientious objection to assisting patients end their own lives will be obliged by law to refer those patients to another physician who will accede to their request for medical help to hasten their death. 

Many arguments can be made against the proposals of this Bill, particularly by Palliative Care physicians and by those who advocate for the rights of the older person and of the person with a disability. Doctors for Life intends to support the efforts of all who oppose this Bill because every human life, no matter how old, sick or enfeebled, is a life worth living.

Progress in Palliative Medicine in recent years has completely changed the management of those with terminal illness, allowing patients to spend quality time with loved ones in their final months and years.  Doctors for Life maintains that, if physician assisted suicide is legalised, undue pressure will be placed on people who are sick and infirm to end their own life, as they will see themselves as a burden on their family or even society.    

Doctors for Life also strenuously objects to the evisceration of the right to conscientious objection which is proposed in the “Dying with Dignity Bill 2020”. By forcing objecting doctors to refer patients to physicians who will do what they themselves believe to be wrong, the law would effectively make them complicit in it. This would represent an erosion of the fundamental human right to freedom of conscience. 

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