Setting up of Oireachtas special committee to examine topic of assisted dying recommended

Over 1,400 submissions received on provisions in Dying with Dignity Bill 2020

An Oireachtas special committee should be established to undertake an examination on the topic of assisted dying, recommends the Joint Committee on Justice in its Report on Scrutiny of Dying with Dignity Bill 2020, and should report within a specific timeframe.

Following detailed scrutiny of the Bill 2020, the Joint Committee on Justice laid its 47 page report before the Dáil this afternoon (July 21) following meetings in private session.

Based on its consideration, the recommendation to the Dáil, stated that the Select Committee had determined that the Bill had serious technical issues in several sections; that it may have unintended policy consequences, particularly regarding the lack of sufficient safeguards to protect against undue pressure being put on vulnerable people to avail of assisted dying; that the drafting of several sections of the Bill contained serious flaws that could potentially render them vulnerable to challenge before the courts, and that the gravity of such a topic as assisted dying warranted a more thorough examination which could potentially benefit from detailed consideration by a Special Oireachtas Committee.

“Therefore,” said Committee Cathaoirleach, Deputy James Lawless, “it reluctantly decided that the Bill should not progress to Committee Stage but that a Special Oireachtas Committee should be established, at the earliest convenience, to progress the matter. In addition, all submissions received by the Justice Committee would be shared with any such Committee.”

While conducting Pre-Committee scrutiny for the Bill, the Committee sought public submissions on the topic and over 1,400 submissions had been received by the deadline in January 2021.

Submissions fell under broad categories relating to legal, medical, personal, academic, faith-based and end-of-life or rights-based perspectives on the provisions contained within the Bill.

“The Bill was also sent to the Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisers (OPLA) to ascertain the legal and constitutional implications of such proposed legislation. An analysis of both these submissions and the OPLA analysis formed the basis of the Committee’s Report on Scrutiny of the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020.”

The Dying with Dignity Bill 2020 is a Private Member’s Bill from Deputy Gino Kenny that seeks to allow for the provision of assisted dying to qualifying persons, those suffering from a terminal illness, with the aim of allowing them to achieve a dignified and peaceful end of life. If enacted, this Bill would give a medical practitioner the legal right to provide assistance to a qualifying person to end their life, according to the terms of this Act.

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