Irish Times: Assisted dying: ‘Difficult to identify sufficient safeguards to protect vulnerable’, politicians told
Coverage from the Irish Times regarding the Tuesday, 14 November Oireachtas Joint Committee on Assisted Dying to discuss concerns around coercion. The Committee meeting featured expert testimony from representatives of the College Associate Professor Siobhan MacHale, Dr Eric Kelleher and Dr Anita Ambikapathy alongside members of the National Suicide Research Foundation and doctor in Law at the University of Leuven and research fellow at the European Institute of Bioethics Léopold Vanbellingen.
Read the article in full on the Irish Times website here, and read a snippet featuring College representative Prof MacHale below. Read the College press statement on the blog here and read the opening statement from the College in full via PDF here.
Dr Siobhan MacHale, consultant liaison psychiatrist, said the organisation is in agreement that the current status quo in which an important minority of patients are not receiving the optimal level of specialist palliative care and psychosocial support to allow them to die with dignity “cannot continue”.
“The answer to this is not to end our patients’ lives, but rather is to interrogate each and every incident of concern, to clarify relevant contributing factors, and to provide the appropriate evidence-based interventions ranging from improved pain control to family support,” she said.
“Where there is no access to the appropriate intervention, or there is a lack of evidence for these, then we must target our energies and resources in these areas.”
Dr MacHale said as psychiatrists, they believe “it is not possible to clearly differentiate between suicidal patients and patients who request assisted dying”.
She added: “Attempting to establish an absolute right to bodily autonomy by legalising assisted dying may undermine other individual and group rights, and, by creating one class of people for whom life is expendable, that particular view may be extended by society to all groups possessing such attributes [such as permanently disabled people].”