Dying with Dignity Bill represents a failure of compassion

Mandatory referral “unacceptable”

News Release

Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

The following statement has been agreed by the Spring General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference which took place this week. 


In January 2021, the Council for Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference made a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Health, regarding the Dying with Dignity Bill. Alongside the protection of human life, our concern is to offer our pastoral support to people living with terminal illness and to their families. We are very aware that, sadly, all across Ireland, many families are engaged day by day in accompanying loved ones through terminal illness.

The Bill currently before the Oireachtas wrongly proposes the deliberate ending of life as a way of conferring dignity on people with terminal illness. The opposite is the case. Human dignity belongs to every person by virtue of his or her human nature. Terminal illness does not take away that dignity. Indeed, in our experience, the inherent dignity of the person often shines through under those difficult circumstances. Under existing law and current best practice, people with terminal illness are supported by family members, by doctors and nurses and palliative care teams, in living life to the full until death comes naturally. We take this opportunity to thank the many healthcare professionals who so generously devote their lives to the care of people with terminal illness.

What this Bill proposes may be appropriately described as “Assisted Suicide”, because it involves one person taking his or her own life, with the active participation of another. We believe that every life has an inherent value, which should be endorsed by society. This Bill, if passed, would be a sad reflection of the unwillingness of society to accompany people with terminal illness. It would reflect a failure of compassion.

The Dying with Dignity Bill presents the deliberate ending of life as an expression of personal autonomy, but what is proposed in this Bill has implications for society as a whole. Once it is accepted in principle, that one person may participate actively in ending the life of another, there is no longer any logical basis for refusing this same option to any person who feels that life is no longer worth living. We are aware that, in countries where it is legally permitted for healthcare professionals to be directly involved in the taking of human life, it has very quickly been extended to include people who are not terminally ill (the elderly, people with intellectual disability, young adults on the autistic spectrum and even minors who, in other circumstances, would not be considered capable of giving legal consent).

The Bill anticipates that doctors and nurses, whose vocation and purpose is to serve life, will now be prepared to involve themselves in ending life. This would represent a radical transformation of the meaning of healthcare. While the Bill does, theoretically, provide for conscientious objection, it still requires healthcare professionals to refer their patients to other medical practitioners who will carry out their wishes. This means that, one way or another, healthcare professionals are required to involve themselves in something which they believe to be contrary to morality and to medical best practice. This, in our view is unacceptable.

As we mark the anniversary of the arrival of Covid-19 in Ireland, and consider the enormous efforts that have been made across every sector of society to protect the life and health of people who are most vulnerable, this Bill is in clear contradiction with the shared commitment of our society. It is at odds with the common good, which it is the function of the state to promote. This Bill is fundamentally flawed. It cannot be repaired or improved and we call on Catholics to ask their elected representatives to reject it entirely.


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm +353 (0) 87 310 4444.

Canadian MP introduces protection of conscience bill

Bill C-268 (2016)  Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act

Sean Murphy*

Conservative Member of Parliament Kelly Block has introduced a bill that would make it a crime to coerce medical or nurse practitioners or other health professionals to take part, directly or indirectly, in “medical assistance in dying.” The preamble of the bill makes clear that it is intended as a protection of conscience measure.

The text of the bill is much the same as a bill proposed by MP Mark Warawa in 2016.

“Medical assistance in dying” means euthanasia and assisted suicide provided by physicians or nurse practitioners. Since it is considered medical treatment in Canada, it falls within provincial jurisdiction over health care. Similarly, provinces have primary jurisdiction over human rights like freedom of conscience. Thus, the federal government has been easily able to refuse amendments like this on the grounds that they unconstitutionally trespass on provincial jursidiction.

The federal government has constitutional jursidiction in criminal law and could make it a crime to compel someone to be a party to homicide and suicide. Since “medical assistance in dying” is non-culpable homicide and non-cuplpable assisted suicide, such a law would provide protection for health care professionals unwilling to be parties to killing their patients or helping them commit suicide, without intruding upon provincial jurisdiction.

The Protection of Conscience Project has repeatedly made this suggestion to Canadian parliamentarians, but its submissions have been ignored.

It is remarkable that the Canadian government clearly believes it is acceptable to compel citizens to become parties to homicide — killing other people — and punish them if they refuse. It is, perhaps, even more remarkable that Canadians are unwilling to talk openly about this.

Lack of evidence-based medicine in debate around new MAID law should concern Canadians

CBC News

Dr. Mark Sinyor

I recently had the privilege of testifying before the Senate of Canada in their deliberations about medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation. The specific question before them was whether to allow the practice as a treatment for mental illness, which the Senate voted to recommend following an 18-month “sunset clause,” and the House of Commons says it would support with a two-year phase-in.

I have no personal objection to MAID in principle. But as a doctor and a psychiatrist who believes in evidence-based medicine, I found both the hearing and the result horrifying.

Bill C-7 would extend MAID to those experiencing intolerable suffering and who are not approaching the natural end of their lives, including those with mental illness. . . [Full text]

Tasmania’s House of Assembly passes Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill

Australia Broadcasting Corporation News

Alexandra Humphries

An overwhelming majority of Tasmania’s House of Assembly MPs have voted to pass Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation, putting the state on the precipice of introducing the historic laws.

MPs voted 16 to 6 in favour of the legislation.

The End of Life Choices Bill’s already passed the state’s Legislative Council after being introduced there by Independent MLC Mike Gaffney last year.

However, because the lower house has amended the Bill it will need another formal approval from the upper house before it can be passed into law, which is expected later this month. . . [Full text]

Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: pharmacists must also have the right to conscientious objection

Life Institute Blog
Reproduced with permission

Bernadette Flood

Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: pharmacists must also have the right to conscientious objection

In jurisdictions where euthanasia and/or assisted suicide is legal, experience shows there are profound implications for pharmacy practice.1 Little attention in the current euthanasia debate has been paid to the role of Irish pharmacists. Pharmacists are employed  in the Irish healthcare system in a variety of locations: hospital, long term care, care of vulnerable populations, community, academia/research, education, industry, palliative care/hospice care, legislation, policy, drug information, HIQA etc. All may be challenged professionally and personally if euthanasia and assisted suicide are introduced. . . . continue reading