Voluntary Assisted Dying, how do we proceed now the Dying with Dignity Bill is defunct?

The Dying with Dignity Bill 2020 was submitted to the Dáil as a private members bill by Gino Kelly (TD) in October 2020. The Bill received wide-spread public support however, the Justice Committee charged with assessing the Bill chose not to proceed with the Dying with Dignity Bill (2020).

Instead, in July 2021, the Justice Committee determined that a Special Committee was the most appropriate route to progress legislation for Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD).

Back in 2013, Marie Fleming took her fight for the right to die to the courts, and very sadly, she lost her case. The Supreme Court ruled she had no constitutional right to die. However, they noted that legislation could provide for Voluntary Assisted Dying in Ireland.

Marie Fleming opened up a conversation, a conversation taken up by VAD advocates such as Gaynor French, Vicky Phelan, Tom Curran and Gino Kelly (TD). Voluntary Assisted Dying is now firmly on the agenda as a matter of policy.

End of Life Ireland (EOLI) believe Ireland is well placed to draft policy for legislation with robust safeguards, that would protect anyone who might seek VAD under the Bill.

For all of us who support the choice to access VAD, now is the time to lobby your local TDs to ensure this Special Committee is created in a timely fashion.

We hope to see a timeframe of 6 months set for the work of drafting the new Bill once the Special Committee is established. As a single issue time bound committee, we believe such a timeframe is appropriate and respectful of those who already need to access this healthcare option.

Considering the wealth of international precedents (VAD has been available in Canada since 2016), and medical and legal expertise (including within our own committee and advisors) and the extensive research carried out over the last 20+ years into best practice in those countries where VAD is already an option.

This is a time sensitive legislation for those with terminal illnesses that wish to access VAD. Everything is a time sensitive issue for those with terminal illnesses that wish to access Voluntary Assisted Dying. This legislation must not be unnecessarily be delayed.

The process of legislating for VAD has and will continue to highlight the need for greater services provision in other areas of Irish healthcare. Ireland’s critical hospice care system has come up in many of the conversations we have had. With the greatest respect and support for the critical hospice care system, we maintain, these issues should be addressed separately. Conflation of adjacent issues only serves to hinder progress, and we are always mindful that time is especially precious for those who want and need this legislation most.

Your help matters now. So what can you do?

When the Dáil returns in September 2021, the Oireachtas Business Committee is charged with setting up the Special Committee. The Committee will be comprised of up of 12 TD’s proportionately represented by each of the parties.

  1. Sign and Share our Uplift Petition to expedite the set up of this Special Committee.

2. Write/Contact your local TDs. Politicians need to get in touch with what people want!

  • stress the urgency of setting up of this Special Committee; ask for their support to ensure this is not delayed
  • ask what their position is on Voluntary Assisted Dying and for their party manifesto
  • ask who they will be putting forward as their party representative on the Special Committee
  • ask your TDs to keep you informed on this issue and to meet with you to talk about why this matters.

3. Support End of Life Ireland

Have conversations, keep everyone informed on this vital issue!

Our blog posts and FAQs are great sources of information.

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